Major Pharma looking to add late stage respiratory to its pipeline
AstraZeneca ($AZN) today had another big round of dismal revenue numbers to explain today. With generic rivals tearing at some of its key franchises, the pharma giant reported a 13% drop in revenue for the first quarter. And AstraZeneca's weakness on the blockbuster front immediately shifted attention to its late-stage pipeline, which is expected to ride to the rescue in the next few years through a combination of savvy R&D work and some inspired blockbuster deal-making.
Briggs Morrison--Courtesy of AZ
Company executives told reporters today that AstraZeneca plans to double the number of late-stage drugs in the pipeline by 2016. This week at BIO, late-stage R&D chief Briggs Morrison told FierceBiotech that the company strategy calls for his group to stay closely focused on its existing crop of late-stage drugs--looking for a break after a long string of setbacks in the clinic--while nurturing its most promising mid-stage programs and tackling "some" bolt-on deals for late-stage therapies.
"We are looking very, very aggressively in cardiovascular/metabolics," says Morrison, a field where AstraZeneca is "very, very light." And he's also scouting for a late-stage program for the respiratory field, another category that fits into the company's big-three disease fields, which also includes oncology.
Morrison, who joined AstraZeneca about a year ago, says he's wide open to doing another deal like Ardea Biosciences ($RDEA), which the pharma giant acquired for $1.26 billion. That deal delivered a late-stage drug for gout which quickly emerged as one of its top prospects. And he says another deal like the one with Amgen ($AMGN), which signed on to partner up five antibodies for inflammatory conditions, or the diabetes pact with Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) could serve as models to bring in new programs.
Pascal Soriot--Courtesy of AZ
"One or more (of the drugs now in the Phase III pipeline) might not make it," Morrison cautions. "That's possible, yes." But the company i