German pharma company Grünenthal has agreed to acquire certain rights to AstraZeneca’s Nexium (esomeprazole) and Vimovo (naproxen/esomeprazole) for a sum of up to $922m.
For Nexium, which is used in the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease, ulcers, and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, Grünenthal will be acquiring the prescription medicine rights in Europe, which will be valid in 33 countries.
The AstraZeneca drug is a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) that aids in lowering the amount of acid produced by the stomach in patients with gastroesophageal reflux conditions and ulcers.
Grünenthal will be acquiring the global (excluding the US and Japan) rights of Vimovo, which is a fixed-dose combination tablet of naproxen and esomeprazole. While naproxen is a pain-relieving non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, esomeprazole contains the same gastroprotective active ingredient as the former.
Vimovo is indicated for treating the symptoms of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis in patients prone to NSAID-associated gastric and/or duodenal ulcers.
While Nexium generated $248m in 2017 for AstraZeneca, Vimovo, which is available in more than 30 countries, fetched the UK pharma giant $79m last year in-scope markets.
Grünenthal CEO Gabriel Baertschi said: “There is a high unmet medical need for patients on long-term high-dose NSAIDs. Despite all guidelines recommending gastrointestinal protection for these patients, evidence suggests that 1 out of 4 may develop stomach ulcer with its serious health complications.
“Therefore, combining Grünenthal’s extensive pain expertise with the well-established products Nexium and Vimovo is a perfect strategic fit.”
For AstraZeneca, both Nexium and Vimovo are outside its three core therapy areas of oncology, cardiovascular, renal & metabolism and respiratory. The company further said that Nexium had lost compound patent protection in most of the global markets while Vimovo is patent protected in a majority of European markets till 2025.
AstraZeneca global product & portfolio strategy executive vice president Mark Mallon said: “The divestment agreements allow us to realise value from our successful medicines while redeploying our resources on developing innovative medicines for patients across our three main therapy areas, which we expect to drive growth for AstraZeneca.
“Grünenthal is a science-based pharmaceutical company specialized in innovative pain management and related therapies. Its expertise and distribution networks will help expand the commercial potential of both Nexium and Vimovo, helping to reach many patients who could benefit.”