AstraZeneca buys MedImmune in $15.6 billion deal, Zook to head global marketing

UK-based AstraZeneca has agreed to buy US biotech company MedImmune for $15.6 billion. The deal will allow AstraZeneca, which has suffered a string of drug development setbacks over the last two years, to strengthen its pipeline by adding MedImmune’s experimental biological treatments and vaccines. AstraZeneca will also get a boost from MedImmune’s FluMist for influenza and Synagis for infant lung infections, which add about $1.2 billion in global sales, AstraZeneca said. Under the deal, AstraZeneca is expected to merge MedImmune with Cambridge Antibody Technology Group, a biotech the UK drugmaker bought in May. Deutsche Bank pharmaceutical analysts said in a note to investors that “The acquisition significantly accelerates and reduces the execution risk of AstraZeneca’s biologicals strategy in creating a leading fully integrated biologics and vaccines business to complement the existing largely small molecule approach.” The deal was earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal, which said at least four large companies were involved in a bidding process for MedImmune. David Brennan, CEO of AstraZeneca, said the bidding process for MedImmune had been “ferociously competitive” and that bids were sealed during the course of Sunday. “We are delighted to have won against all our peers in the pharma industry,” Brennan told reporters on a conference call to discuss the deal. Meanwhile, AstraZeneca said US president and CEO Tony Zook has also taken on responsibility for the company’s global marketing efforts. Zook will assume the additional role beginning May 1, AstraZeneca spokeswoman Laura King told MM&M. Zook takes over for Martin Nicklasson, currently EVP of global marketing for AstraZeneca and CEO of the company’s Swedish affiliate. Nicklasson has joined Swedish biotech Biovitrum as president and CEO.