Bristol-Myers Squibb exits the diabetes field with plans to become a specialised biopharmaceutical company

AstraZeneca has agreed to pay Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) up to $4.1 billion (£2.5 billion) for its share of the pharma giants’ diabetes joint venture. As a result, approximately 4100 workers currently on BMS’s payroll are expected to move over to AstraZeneca. BMS’s sale of its share of the venture will see it exit the diabetes market, with the company stating that it is continuing its ‘evolution’ into a speciality biopharma firm.

The sale of BMS’s share of the diabetes business will see AstraZeneca holding the rights to a number of diabetes drugs, including dapagliflozin, exenatide, saxagliptin and a number of combination therapies.

The move by AstraZeneca has been widely seen as a way of shoring up the firm’s threadbare drug pipeline. In a statement, Pascal Soriot, chief executive of AstraZeneca, said: ‘Diabetes is rapidly becoming a global challenge of epidemic proportions that is expected to affect more than 550 million people by 2030.’ He added that AstraZeneca planned to leverage its strong presence in developing markets to increase sales of diabetes drugs. India presently has 67 million people with diabetes and that is predicted to rise to 101 million by 2030.