AstraZeneca, Daiichi Sankyo partner in $6B cancer drug deal

British drugmaker AstraZeneca signed a deal July 27 with Japanese drugmaker Daiichi Sankyo to develop an oncology drug with fewer side effects than traditional cancer treatments.

Under the agreement, AstraZeneca will pay Daiichi Sankyo $1 billion up front, another $1 billion after the drug gains regulatory approval and up to $4 billion for future sales.

The drug is an antibody conjugate called DS-1062. Researchers created it to provide chemotherapy only to cells that produce a protein called TROP2, which could reduce cancer patients’ side effects while they are in treatment. The drug’s safety and efficacy has not been proven, as DS-1062 has not yet been approved anywhere.

The drugmakers will evenly split profits and costs associated with DS-1062, except in Japan, where Daaiichi Sankyo will keep its exclusive rights and pay AstraZeneca royalties.

The deal comes as AstraZeneca continues to focus more on oncology treatments. The drugmaker has released six cancer drugs since 2014, hired José Baselga, MD, PhD, to lead its oncology research and development in 2019 and signed a multibillion dollar deal with Daiichi Sankyo in 2019 for shared rights of another cancer drug.

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