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AstraZeneca’s Anti-Infective Woes

According to Fierce Pharma, AstraZeneca is having trouble unloading its anti-infectives division. Part of the problem seems to be that they’re trying to spin out the whole package at once:

The pharma giant also specifically sought out venture groups that had been investing in anti-infectives in an effort to find a buyer for the Waltham, MA-based group. “The assets had little (if any) differentiation and were late to the market and the economics didn’t make sense,” the executive added.
Another player in the field says he took an early look at AstraZeneca’s proposition. “The challenge was that they wanted to spin out the whole pipeline plus a 20-person team,” he said. “The pipeline had a couple of interesting assets but they wanted to get paid for the uninteresting assets as well.”


The article says that people believe that AZ is getting close to making some sort of decision, since the whole process has been going on for longer than they wanted. I wonder how many of that 20-person team still remains?


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13 comments on “AstraZeneca’s Anti-Infective Woes”

  1. steve says:

    If it’s not a competitive pipeline then maybe they should talk to the Gates foundation about purchasing it for use in 3rd world countries.

  2. anonymous says:

    When I got the boot from Waltham in 2012 there were still more than 50 infection chemists (and I don’t know how many biologists). I would think most of them are still there at the present time.

  3. DrSnowboard says:

    “AstraZeneca had a formal process underway where they were pitching spinning off the business and AstraZeneca being the lead shareholder,” one executive close to the bargaining table tells me. “Based on the economics of the deal and the assets involved, it was very difficult to make the proposal work.”
    AZ did always love process over common sense…

  4. YuppieScum says:

    Looks like you’ve missed out the closing tag for italics in the article…

  5. Dr. Manhattan says:

    Here’s a key point: “”AstraZeneca had a formal process underway where they were pitching spinning off the business and AstraZeneca being the lead shareholder,”… “Based on the economics of the deal and the assets involved, it was very difficult to make the proposal work.”
    So AZ wanted to be the lead shareholder, (i.e. call the shots) but ask others to put in money to keep the group afloat & the assets moving. Wonder what kind of deal there was in terms of ROI for an investor if the assets paid off? Not surprising there was little interest in a deal of this kind.
    Also, what was the composition and mission of the 20 person team of the spin off? Keep some sort of R&D effort going? Move the spun off assets forward? A 20 person team would cost $6-7 million alone per year to keep going, along with additional asset development costs.

  6. D.J. says:

    Your quote is bleeding italics down the rest of the page…

  7. Derek Lowe says:

    Fixed the close-italics. As it happens, I’ve come down with some sort of viral respiratory ick, so I’m not at full capacity today.
    But as people have noted, when I saw that phrase “formal process”, I grinned. Take a lot to steam that out of an organization!

  8. Kazoo Chemist says:

    Derek: I believe you have a case of “snow shoveler’s ague”. Hopefully the Boston area will get some reprieve from the winter weather.
    The current Boston weather brings back to mind my time as a post-doc at MIT (many years ago). We had a very bad winter with a ton of snowfall and the MDC (the snow plowing Metropolitan District Commission – are they still called that?) ran out of money. They just quit plowing as a political statement to get public attention to get more funding. What a nightmare! My favorite memory was from offering my wife’s boss a ride home. We got stuck in the snow and that resulted in the Dean of Humanities of MIT in his top coat and beret pushing my car down Memorial Drive. Great fun.

  9. InsilicoConsulting says:

    The Indian site working on Malaria, TB, Broad spectrum earlier and only TB later was closed down last year.
    Boston supposedly had a great research and commercial plan.
    They had done genomewide knockouts of that pesky ulcer relate bug as early as 1999-2000!
    The Arrow therapeutics deal also did not go down well.
    Why?

  10. Hap says:

    If you’re basically saying that you don’t believe the asset can deliver enough to be worth paying for it, then what reason is there for someone else to give you money to keep running it while ceding control to you (who can’t make it run well enough to recoup its costs)? Unless it’s someone with no reason to make money (and even then, you’d have to believe that AZ would be able to better do the work then you or some new entity you could run with the same money could), this doesn’t seem like a good idea.

  11. oldnuke says:

    We had a bit of snow and ice when I was a student at Mississippi State. They had no way to deal with it. Campus was shut down for two days until the Sun did the job of ice removal.
    Lots of unintentional ice skating. For those of us from the northern states, it was pretty amusing to watch…

  12. MoMo says:

    I’d give em a Buck O’ five for it-the whole division.

  13. Anon2 says:

    It sounds like Pfizer doesn’t think it is worth the risk to keep on board, the 20 employees are convinced there is something there, and now Pfizer wants to benefit more than compromise. I really don’t know what to suggest at this point. Typically you let the employees have at it and take a minority stake in the company. I can’t blame Pfizer for wanted more of the pie, but sometimes a little pie is better than none.

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