Crohn’s disease and rare thyroid cancer drugs lie outside firm’s renewed strategic focus

Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca (AZ) has agreed to sell the rights to two drugs that the company considers lie outside its strategic focus areas.

AZ will sell Caprelsa (vandetanib) – a treatment for aggressive and symptomatic medullary thyroid carcinoma – to Sanofi–Genzyme. Genzyme will pay $165 million (£106 million) up front, plus a further $135 million in performance-based milestone payments. Caprelsa has been approved since 2005, and generated sales of $48 million in 2014.

The company is also selling Entocort (budesonide) – a gastrointestinal drug for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis – to Tillotts Pharma (part of Zeria group in Japan). Tillotts will pay $215 million for the right to sell and develop new capsule and enema formulations of Entocort outside of the US.

As part of AZ’s ongoing strategic reorganisation, the company is reducing the number of disease areas in which it operates, focusing on cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic disorders, and respiratory, inflammation and autoimmune disease.