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Ironwood returns US Zurampic rights to AstraZeneca, announces operational cuts

Published on 07/08/18 at 11:04am

Ironwood Pharmaceuticals has revealed that it has taken the decision to hand the rights for gout therapy Zurampic (lesinurad) back to AstraZeneca, terminating an agreement between the two firms that was struck in 2016.

The original deal awarded Ironwood with exclusive US rights to the drug for a potential value of $265 million plus royalty payments, and also included the same coverage for Duzallo, a combination of lesinurad and allopurinol. After launching an evaluation at the beginning of the year to determine optimal investment in lesinurad, the company made the decision to terminate the deal.

“After initiating the lesinurad market tests in early 2018 and assessing the results in July, we have decided to terminate our licensing agreement with AstraZeneca in its entirety,” said Ironwood CEO Peter Hecht. “This action is not taken lightly, but it is an important decision that we believe enables us to allocate capital to the highest return opportunities and drive growth. We are working to maintain appropriate availability of lesinurad for patients and physicians during the termination period.”

The company revealed the decision alongside details of its second quarter earnings, noting that it has dropped operating costs for fiscal 2019 by $75-100 million and will be cutting 125 employees from its workforce, primarily from field-based sales.

“Ironwood’s performance during the second quarter was driven by year-over-year topline growth of approximately 25%, continued strong LINZESS demand, initiation of Phase III programmes for IW-3718 and linaclotide, and further enrolment in Phase 2 trials for praliciguat and olinciguat,” Hecht continued. “In addition, during the second quarter we announced our intent to separate into two independent, publicly traded companies, each with focused missions and opportunities for significant growth. We have made substantial progress and remain on track to complete the separation in the first half of 2019.”

Matt Fellows

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