AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) has agreed to acquire a biotechnology company with a gout drug in phase 3 clinical trials for $1.26 billion, according to a company statement, in a move that will help deepen its drug pipeline.
Ardea Biosciences‘ drug lesinurad is viewed as stronger than competitors like BioCryst and produces response rates between 70 percent and 80 percent compared to 28 percent for a placebo in phase 2 clinical trial results released earlier this year.
Gout is a painful, progressive arthritic condition caused by heightened uric acid levels in the bloodstream that crystallize and migrate to joints in the body and surrounding tissue. The condition affects about 8.3 million people in the United States, 6.4 million in the European Union and 2.9 million in Japan, according to Ardea Bioscience. The number of gout patients in major markets is forecast to grow to more than 16 million by 2019, according to AstraZeneca’s website.
It is the second acquisition for a gout drug this month and follows Takeda Pharmaceutical Co’s acquisition of Philadelphia-based URL Pharmaceuticals in a deal valued at more than $800 million.
A new drug application is expected to be filed for lesinurad in the U.S. in the first half of 2014. AstraZeneca, which has U.S. headquarters in Delaware, will use its research and development resources to help the drug’s development through to the approval stage and will develop and commercialize the drug in China and Japan.
The deal may help to temporarily alleviate some of the company’s critics concerned about the imminent expiration of some the patents on some of the company’s most popular drugs like Seroquel and Atacand (2012), Nexium (2014) and Crestor (2016).
It follows an additional piece of good news AstraZeneca received last week with the recommendation to European regulators to approve diabetes drug dapagliflozin, developed with Bayer, despite having been delayed in the U.S. market by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration earlier this year over cancer risk concerns. The drug, which will be known as FORXIGA in Europe, is the first in a new class of SGL2 inhibitor drugs that inhibit renal glucose reabsorption and increase the excretion of excess glucose from the body and assist in the reduction of hyperglycemia.