AstraZeneca Acquires Arrow Therapeutics To Broaden Anti-Infective Capabilities
AstraZeneca today announced an agreement to acquire Arrow Therapeutics Ltd., a privately owned UK biotechnology company, focused on the discovery and development of anti-viral therapies. The total share capital of Arrow Therapeutics will be purchased for $150m cash, subject to debt and working capital adjustment. The transaction is expected to close early in 2007.
The deal is an important strategic step for AstraZeneca, strengthening its portfolio of promising anti-infective treatments from external opportunities and providing a widely recognised expert group and technology platform in an area of research that complements internal capabilities in anti-bacterials. The deal also fits with AstraZeneca's decision to re-focus its disease area research with infection and anti-bacterials now one of the company's key therapy areas.
The anti-viral programmes developed by Arrow Therapeutics, include several different approaches towards Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).
The acquisition of Arrow Therapeutics augments AstraZeneca’s portfolio with clinical and pre-clinical compounds and programmes. These assets include two anti-HCV compounds which both target the novel NS5a protein including A-831 in Phase I. Arrow’s most advanced compound is RSV604, currently in Phase II clinical development and partnered with Novartis. RSV604 is a first-in-class, small molecule, oral anti-RSV compound.
John Patterson, Executive Director, Development, AstraZeneca, said: “Arrow Therapeutics is an excellent opportunity to acquire a world-class anti-viral capability to add to our own anti-bacterial research capabilities and promising early stage compounds. AstraZeneca is determined to focus on areas of highest unmet needs and we have identified anti-bacterials and anti-virals as a key opportunity.”
Jan Lundberg, Executive Vice President of Discovery, AstraZeneca, added: “We intend to utilise the best of both organisations with an innovation-led culture paramount; we’ll look to preserve the entrepreneurial culture of Arrow Therapeutics, while at the same time gaining the benefits available to us from applying the breadth and depth of AstraZeneca’s global capabilities.”
Ken Powell, CEO of Arrow Therapeutics, said: “We are delighted to join AstraZeneca, which has a proven track record in successfully enhancing its research capabilities by the acquisition of smaller biotechnology companies. Our scientists are looking forward to working within the AstraZeneca research framework. We will be helping to build a complementary anti-viral franchise by utilising the resources of AstraZeneca to realise the full potential of the Arrow Therapeutics programmes and to develop a major pipeline of new anti-viral medicines. We are very excited about this opportunity for our team who have made such an important contribution to the success of Arrow Therapeutics.”
Arrow Therapeutics currently has 57 employees at its facility in London, UK. AstraZeneca’s immediate plans are for Arrow Therapeutics to become a hub for anti-viral discovery activities remaining at its present central London site.
Notes to news editors
The urgent need for novel Hepatitis C inhibitors has been well documented, with an estimated 170 million sufferers worldwide. The current Standard of Care treatment (Pegylated Interferon + ribavirin) has a poor side effect profile and is only effective in around 50 per cent of patients. As with HIV/AIDS, multiple drugs in combination therapy are likely to be needed to overcome drug resistance. The value of the Hepatitis C market was approximately $2.2 billion in 2005 and is forecast to grow substantially to $4.4 billion in 2010 and $8.8 billion in 2015.
RSV is a major threat to the very young, the elderly and the immuno-compromised and with no other effective treatment available represents a major unmet medical need. Although best known as an infection in babies where it causes severe bronchiolitis, a recent editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine has also stressed its significant effects in the elderly. RSV is also implicated in many asthma & COPD attacks. Currently, the only widely used intervention is MedImmune's monoclonal antibody, Synagis (palivizumab), which is used to prevent infection in high risk infants. However, this antibody is used in a small percentage of babies and although it is only effective given prior to infection (unlike a treatment therapy) it has reached sales of 'blockbuster' proportions and proven the RSV market.
AstraZeneca is a major international healthcare business engaged in the research, development, manufacture and marketing of prescription pharmaceuticals and the supply of healthcare services. It is one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies with healthcare sales of over $23.95 billion and leading positions in sales of gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, respiratory, oncology and infection and neuroscience products. AstraZeneca is listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (Global) as well as the FTSE4Good Index.
Arrow Therapeutics was founded in 1998, and is focused exclusively on novel antiviral drug discovery and development. Based in central London with 57 employees, the product pipeline includes novel antiviral lead and clinical compounds. Arrow’s lead compound RSV604 to treat Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is in Phase ll clinical studies and is partnered with Novartis. The Hepatitis C programme consists of multiple series from different chemical classes. The most advanced compounds inhibit NS5a, a novel viral target (for more detail on NS5a please see www.arrowt.co.uk). The lead compound, A-831, is currently in Phase I trials and A-689, a compound from the second NS5a series, has just entered preclinical development. Arrow also has a Hepatitis C polymerase programme in lead optimisation. Its current shareholders include investment funds represented by Atlas Venture, Alta Partners, 3i, GIMV, ITX, Merlin BioMed Group, NIF, Northern Venture Managers, Scottish Widows Investment Partnership, TVM Capital and Unibio.