AstraZeneca to acquire Novexel


AstraZeneca is to buy French antibiotics group Novexel for up to US$505m (

AstraZeneca is to buy French antibiotics group Novexel for up to US$505m (£316m).

The pharmaceuticals group will also collaborate with Forest Laboratories on the future co-development and commercialisation of ceftazidime/NXL-104 (CAZ104) and ceftaroline/NXL-104 (CEF104), which use Novexel's investigational beta-lactamase inhibitor NXL-104 to overcome antibiotic resistance.

Under the deal AstraZeneca will pay US$350m for 100% of Novexel's shares and an additional US$75m if development milestones are reached. AstraZeneca will also transfer US$80m to Novexel to meet its net cash balance.

AstraZeneca has also agreed a deal with Forest in which the US firm will pay for half of the acquisition of Novexel and half of any development milestone payments in return for rights to market CAZ104 in North America and maintain a licensing agreement for CEF104.

Forest will have rights to commercialise the antibiotic combinations in North America, while AstraZeneca will have rights in the rest of the world with the exception of CEF104 in Japan, where Takeda retains the rights for ceftaroline.

In addition to NXL-104 and its combinations, the Novexel pipeline includes a Phase II oral anti-MRSA compound and several early stage and preclinical compounds.

Anders Ekblom, AstraZeneca's executive vice-president of development, said: "Building AstraZeneca's anti-infective portfolio has become a strategic priority as antibiotic-resistant bacteria pose a growing threat to human health."

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Iain Buchanan, Novexel's ceo, added: "This deal highlights the significant progress that Novexel has made since it was spun out of Aventis Pharma in December 2004. I am confident that the acquired assets will receive continued investment from both AstraZeneca and Forest and will have the possibility to play an important therapeutic role to combat resistant organisms in the hospital."