AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) and Amgen (NYSE:AMGN) will collaborate on five monoclonal antibodies to treat inflammatory diseases in a move that could help AstraZeneca steer away from the patent cliff and put recent setbacks behind.
The pharmaceutical companies will jointly develop and commercialize five Amgen drugs. AstraZeneca will pay an initial $50 million up front and shoulder 65 percent of the development costs from 2012 to 2014.
The British company, with U.S. headquarters in Delaware, will lead the commercialization of three drugs. AMG 139 is in phase 1 clinical trials for Crohn’s disease and possible applications for other inflammatory diseases such as psoriasis. AMG 157 is being investigated in phase 1b trials for its potential as an asthma remedy. AMG 181 is in phase 1b trials to treat ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Monoclonal antibodies are made by identical immune cells and can be used to bind onto a particular substance to detect the substance or purify it.
Of all the drugs in the collaborative agreement, brodalumab has progressed furthest in clinical trials. It is poised to begin phase 3 trials as a treatment for psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis and asthma. AstraZeneca will promote in respiratory and, initially, in dermatology indications of brodalumab across all areas outside of the U.S., Canada and markets where Amgen has existing partnerships, the statement said.
AstraZeneca’s deal with Amgen is a more cost-effective way to broaden its pipeline than an acquisition and helps it take some of the sting from what has been a string a setbacks for the company. Last month, it said it would not seek approval for Targacept after the depression drug failed its phase 3 trials. Development of its ovarian cancer drug Olaparib was discontinued after poor results in phase 1 trials. The company got a complete response letter for its diabetes drug dapagliflozin, which requires it to do additional tests before the new drug application can be resubmitted. And its patent for asthma drug Symbicort, which brought in $846 million in 2011, is set to expire this year.