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AstraZeneca Acquires Majority Stake In Acerta, Boosts Key Area In Comprehensive Oncology Portfolio

Dec 18, 2015 04:19 AM EST | By Jean-Claude Arnobit
astrazeneca, Acerta, acquire majority stake

AstraZeneca Plc has announced in a press release that it has acquired a 55 percent stake in Acerta Pharma BV, a privately-owned biopharmaceutical company based in the Netherlands and U.S.

The acquisition boosts AstraZeneca's key area in the company's comprehensive oncology portfolio.

AstraZeneca said that the transaction provides them with the medicine acalabrutinib, a potential best-in-class irreversible oral Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor.

The medicine is currently in Phase III development for B-cell blood cancers and in Phase I/II clinical trials in multiple solid tumours.

Pascal Soriot, the CEO of AstraZeneca, said that the investment with Acerta is consistent with the company's focus on long-term growth."

"Acalabrutinib provides us with a small molecule presence in blood cancers to complement our existing immunotherapy approach, in collaboration with Celgene in haematological malignancies," he said.

AstraZeneca adds that an extensive development program for acalabrutinib is underway with the opportunity for initial regulatory submissions in the second half of 2016 for the treatment of patients.

Patients with specific types of haematological malignancies will be treated with the acalabrutinib.

The acalabrutinib, which will expand further into B-cell cancers, is estimated to reach potential peak-year sales in excess of $5 billion globally.

Reuters said that the decision to acquire a majority stake in Acerta shows Soriot's determination to boost his company's pipeline.

Soriot is looking to boost the company's portfolio as sales of the company's older blockbuster products, which includes Crestor, a cholesterol-fighting drug, and Nexium, a heartburn pill, loses its patent protection.

Soriot agreed to buy ZS Pharma, a specialist in treating high potassium levels, last month for $2.7 billion.

Under the terms of the agreement, AstraZenaca will be paying upfront $2.5 billion for the 55 percent share of Acerta's entire issued share capital.

A further conditional $1.5 billion will be paid, either on receipt of the first regulatory approval for acalabrutinib for any indication in the U.S., or the end of 2018, depending on which is first.

The agreement also provides an opportunity for Acerta shareholders to sell, and AstraZeneca to buy, the remaining 45 percent of shares of Acerta for approximately $3 billion.

The option can be exercised at various points in time, conditional on the first approval of acalabrutinib in both the U.S and Europe.

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