Ionis may get up to $300 million in licensing deal with AstraZeneca

FILE PHOTO - Traders work at the post where AstraZeneca is traded on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc said on Monday a licensing deal for its fatty liver disease treatment with AstraZeneca Plc could fetch up to $300 million in milestone payments.

Shares of Ionis rose 3 percent, while U.S.-listed shares of AstraZeneca gained 1 percent in premarket trade.

The drug, IONIS-AZ6-2.5-LRx, is being developed to treat nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and is the third drug to enter development under Ionis’ collaboration with AstraZeneca.

NASH is seen as one of the fastest growing diseases in the developed world with no approved treatments. Many companies are trying to develop drugs to tackle various aspects of the condition, so far with minimal success.

Last week, Terns Pharmaceuticals said it would acquire the rights to commercialize three NASH assets from Eli Lilly. And in March, Regeneron and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals said they would collaborate to discover new treatments for the condition.

AstraZeneca, which will be responsible for further development and commercialization of the drug, will pay Ionis a $30 million license fee, the companies said on Monday.

Ionis said it could receive up to low teens in tiered royalties from sales of the drug.

Ionis and AstraZeneca signed a partnership in 2015 to develop therapies for cardiovascular, metabolic and renal disease, under which Ionis received a $65 million fee.

Reporting by Mrinalini Krothapalli; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila