AstraZeneca acquires majority stake in Acerta Pharma
The impetus for the purchase was for AstraZeneca to gain rights to several drugs that are in development, including blood cancer and solid tumor therapy Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor acalabrutinib (ACP-196).
Once acalabrutinib is approved in the U.S. as a treatment for any disease, AstraZeneca will pay Acerta another $1.5 billion. The payment will come due at the end of 2018 if no approvals have been issued.
"We are boosting a key area in our comprehensive oncology portfolio with a late-stage, potential best-in-class medicine that could transform treatment for patients across a range of blood cancers,” Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca's CEO, said. “Acalabrutinib provides us with a small molecule presence in blood cancers to complement our existing immunotherapy approach, in collaboration with Celgene in haematological malignancies."
It is estimated that, upon approval, acalabrutinib's worldwide sales could top $5 billion annually.
"The BTK inhibitor class has been transformational in the management of B-cell cancers but a portion of patients treated with ibrutinib (the first generation BTK inhibitor), can’t tolerate the side effects and sadly discontinue their treatment," Dr. John Byrd, professor at The Ohio State University School of Medicine, said. "The acalabrutinib data are highly encouraging as they show that high selectivity, a short half-life and an optimized dosing schedule result in very high efficacy and a significantly better tolerability profile with very low discontinuation rates. Acalabrutinib may potentially offer improved long-term benefit over other options available for these patients."
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