AstraZeneca on verge of US licensing deal

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The Independent Online

AstraZeneca has penned a licensing deal with a US biotechnology group that could see the UK’s second biggest drugs group pay up to $735m for two constipation treatments.

The Anglo-Swedish pharmaceuticals giant has agreed to pay Nasdaq-listed Nektar Therapeutics a $125m upfront payment after entering into a licensing agreement for two development programmes.

AstraZeneca will get access to NKTR-118, a late stage product being evaluated for the treatment of constipation, and NKTR-119, an early stage programme, which it hopes will eventually produce products for the pain associated with constipation.

NKTR-118, the most developed of the products has completed phase two trials. Nektar will get $235m for passing certain regulatory milestones, as well as tiered payments of up to $375m depending on the treatment’s commercial success.

“NKTR-118 is an important late stage programme that has the potential to address a real need for patients,” said David Brennan, AstraZeneca’s chief executive. “We are excited about this agreement with Nektar, as it provides us the opportunity to apply our deep knowledge and expertise in neuroscience, oncology and gastrointestinal areas of medicine to create real value for patients.

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