Sanofi to buy AstraZeneca's cancer drug for upto $300 mn

French drugmaker Sanofi today struck a deal to buy Caprelsa, used for the treatment of a rare type of cancer, from AstraZeneca Plc for as much as $300 million in order to strengthen its portfolio of rare-disease drugs.

Under the terms of the agreement, Sanofi's subsidiary Genzyme will pay AstraZeneca up to $300 million, including an upfront payment of $165 million to acquire the global rights to sell and develop Caprelsa, and further development and sales milestone payments of up to $135 million.

The transaction, which does not include the transfer of any AstraZeneca employees or facilities, is expected to complete in the second half of 2015.

Caprelsa was granted Orphan Drug Designation by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2005 and is currently available in 28 countries for the treatment of aggressive and symptomatic medullary thyroid carcinoma. It had global sales of $48 million in 2014.

''Caprelsa is a rare disease therapy and the divestment to Genzyme, an expert leader in endocrinology, demonstrates our commitment to ensure patients continue to have access to this medicine while we sharpen our focus on key disease areas,'' said, Luke Miels, executive vice president, global product & portfolio strategy and corporate affairs at AstraZeneca.

Genzyme's president and CEO, David Meeker, said, ''The addition of Caprelsa represents a strong strategic fit for our rare endocrinology portfolio and underscores Genzyme's commitment to addressing unmet needs in the thyroid community. We look forward to bringing our rare disease expertise to appropriate patients with advanced stage thyroid carcinoma.''