British drugmaker AstraZeneca has sold the European marketing rights for the opioid-induced constipation drug Moventig to ProStrakan, a unit of Japanese biopharma firm Kyowa Hakko Kirin. It is the second big sale of a non-core drug that the company has made in the last two days.
AstraZeneca will receive $70 million in upfront payments as well as future tiered royalties on net sales as part of the arrangement, which will allow ProStrakan to sell the medication in the EU, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. AstraZeneca also received $500 million in a separate deal from selling two older heart medications on Monday, according to Reuters.
The company has been on a divestment binge over the past several years as it attempts to clear out fading portions of its pipeline to fuel future R&D and concentrate on therapeutic spaces such as cardiovascular and cancer drugs. AstraZeneca reportedly hopes to top last year’s divestment-related revenues of $1.1 billion in 2016.
Moventig, which is marketed as Movantik in the U.S., has caused some controversy for AstraZeneca in the past month. The company and its marketing partner for the treatment in America, Daiichi Sankyo, came under fire from Democratic Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin for airing a Movantik ad during the Super Bowl in February despite the ongoing opioid addiction crisis in the U.S.
“Like many Americans, I was baffled by the commercial your companies paid an estimated $10 million to air during the Super Bowl,” wrote Shumlin in a letter to the companies demanding that the ads be taken down. “In the midst of America’s opiate and heroin addiction crisis the advertisement was not only poorly timed, it was a shameful attempt to exploit that crisis to boost your companies’ profits.”
AstraZeneca later rebuffed Shumlin’s request, writing that the commercial’s message would encourage “a clinically important conversation about [opioid-induced constipation] between patients and their doctors.”