AstraZeneca, Abraxis rethink cancer drug deal

AstraZeneca PLC and Abraxis BioScience Inc are likely to end or effect changes in their co-promotion partnership for the breast cancer treatment drug Abraxane in the US.

On 19 November, Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and Los Angeles-based Abraxis BioScience entered into an agreement, according to which, Abraxis would re-acquire exclusive rights to market Abraxane in America. Also, the board of Abraxis's parent will consider ending the co-promotion agreement between 1 January and 5 January, 2009.

Abraxis will pay the Anglo-Swedish giant a fee of $268 million on 31 March, 2009. But, in case board approval is not obtained, the co-promotion agreement will continue with an amended commission of 50 per cent to AstraZeneca, which will continue to promote Abraxane until it receives a confirmation that the board of directors of Abraxis has approved ending the agreement.

Patrick Soon-Shiong, chief executive of Abraxis, said ending the deal would make sense at this time.''We believe the time has come to further build our commercialisation platform for Abraxane in the US. We have gained much in our collaboration with AstraZeneca and they have done a commendable job in building market share,'' he said.

Abraxis BioScience's portfolio includes the world's first and only protein-bound chemotherapeutic compound- Abraxane. The first FDA-approved product, Abraxane was launched in 2005 for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer following failure of combination chemotherapy.

With annual sales of around $29.55 billion last year, AstraZeneca is a leader in cardiovascular, oncology, respiratory, gastrointestinal, neuroscience, and infection product sales.