AstraZeneca sells two dermatology drug rights to LEO Pharma

A sign is seen at an AstraZeneca site in Macclesfield, central England May 19, 2014. REUTERS/Phil Noble/File Photo

(Reuters) - British drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc said it sold the rights to develop an experimental mid-stage drug to treat atopic dermatitis to privately-held LEO Pharma.

LEO Pharma would pay AstraZeneca $115 million in upfront payment and $1 billion in milestones. However, AstraZeneca will retain rights to develop the drug, tralokinumab, to treat severe asthma, the company said.

Shares of AstraZeneca were trading nearly flat at 4,463 pence on Friday at 7.04 GMT on the London Stock Exchange.

Separately, AstraZeneca said it terminated its licensing deal with Canadian drugmaker Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc on its experimental psoriasis drug, brodalumab, and sold the rights to that drug in Europe to LEO Pharma. Details of the deal were not disclosed.

AstraZeneca said it did not expect the deals to have any impact on its earnings forecast.

AstraZeneca’s deal with LEO Pharma falls in line with the British drugmaker’s recent strategy of focusing on cancer treatments and keeping its market position in developing respiratory treatments.

AstraZeneca, which badly needs new drugs to combat the loss of patent protection on its older drugs, is pinning its hopes on another experimental treatment for severe asthma, benralizumab, while it develops more than 10 other respiratory treatments.

In June alone, AstraZeneca had sold regional sales rights to its new gout drug Zurampic and global marketing rights to a portfolio of anaesthetics to raise about $1 billion to fund investments in new drugs.

Reporting by Vidya L Nathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Sunil Nair