FTSE 100 drug giant AstraZeneca (AZN) is selling the development rights to a skin disease drug in a deal that could be worth more than a $1 billion.

Danish dermatology specialist LEO Pharma will own the global rights to Tralokinumab, which has completed Phase IIb trials, if the deal completes later this year as expected.

It will pay $115 million upfront and could hand over milestones worth up to $1 billion plus royalties on any future sales.

Astra, however, retains Tralokinumab’s development rights to tackle asthma.

Web - AstraZeneca - 01 July 2016

The deal is part of the group’s strategy of focusing on its core therapeutic areas. This is the new thinking for the world’s major drug companies who want to specialise on a few parts of the healthcare market rather than have interests in several areas.

This has seen GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) swop its cancer drugs for Novartis’ (NOVN:SIX) vaccine business.

-AstraZeneca’s core areas are:

-Respiratory, Inflammation and Autoimmunity

-Cardiovascular and Metabolic diseaseOncology


News that the deal will have no impact on earnings guidance for 2016 saw the shares remain flat at £44.58.

AstraZeneca has already received a boost in the past week as worried investors bought the shares to protect them against the effects of the UK deciding to leave the EU.

Separately, Astra has terminated an agreement with Canadian outfit Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX:NYSE) to sell psoriasis treatment candidate brodalumab in Europe. LEO will take this over.

Issue Date: 01 Jul 2016