Deal tops up Pfizer’s late-stage development pipeline, but AZ will retain biological programmes

Pfizer has agreed to buy several of AstraZeneca’s (AZ) antibiotic products, in a bid to top up its revenues and late-stage development pipeline, while AZ further concentrates its efforts on fewer disease areas.

The deal transfers AZ’s rights to the combination drug Zavicefta (ceftazadime-avibactam), which was recently approved in the EU, as well as two other marketed antibiotics, and two products in late-stage clinical trials. Allergan retains the North American rights to four of the five products, while Sumitomo Dainippon holds the rights to Merrem (meropanem) in several Asian countries. Pfizer will pay $725 million (£548 million) in cash, plus up to $850 million, and royalties on sales of Zavicefta and one of the investigational drugs.

Having been foiled in larger takeover bids of both AZ and Allergan in recent years, Pfizer is looking to smaller acquisitions to boost both its portfolio of approved drugs, and late-stage development pipeline as revenues from former blockbusters decline. The company has also just agreed to take over cancer specialist Medivation for $14 billion.

AZ has been selling off products and research programmes it sees as outside its core focus on cancer; cardiovascular and metabolic disorders; and respiratory, inflammation and autoimmune disease. The company will retain a presence in anti-infectives through its biological drugs arm, MedImmune, and its stake in Entasis, which spun-off from from AZ in 2015, taking its early-stage projects.