Drug News

AstraZeneca Expands Vaccine Portfolio with $1.1 Billion Acquisition of Icosavax

AstraZeneca, a global pharmaceutical giant, announced on Tuesday its strategic move to acquire respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine developer Icosavax in a deal valued at up to $1.1 billion. This acquisition is part of AstraZeneca’s ongoing efforts to strengthen its vaccine portfolio, with a focus on combating respiratory infections.

Icosavax, a U.S.-listed company, is currently in the process of developing a combination vaccine candidate that targets both RSV and human metapneumovirus (hMPV). RSV is a significant cause of pneumonia, particularly affecting toddlers and the elderly, while hMPV leads to similar respiratory tract infections.

The cash deal, aimed at enhancing AstraZeneca’s drug pipeline, values Icosavax at $15 per share, with the potential for an additional $5 per share contingent on meeting specific milestones. The upfront payment by AstraZeneca represents a premium of approximately 43% to Icosavax’s last closing share price. In response to the acquisition announcement, shares of Icosavax surged by 45% to $15.25 in U.S. premarket trading.

Iskra Reic, AstraZeneca Executive Vice President for Vaccines & Immune Therapies, highlighted the synergies in combining RSV and hMPV, emphasizing their shared structural biology and overlapping seasons. This strategic acquisition aligns with AstraZeneca’s broader initiative to address respiratory infections and diversify its vaccine offerings.

The potential combination vaccine from Icosavax would complement AstraZeneca’s existing RSV portfolio, which includes Beyfortus, a drug developed in collaboration with Sanofi. If successful, this could mark AstraZeneca’s first RSV vaccine. The company will face competition from GSK, whose Arexy shot received approval in the United States in May, and Pfizer.

The deal is especially significant as AstraZeneca has experienced a decline in sales of its COVID-19 vaccine post-pandemic. The acquisition of Icosavax aims to tap into the multi-billion-dollar RSV market, diversifying AstraZeneca’s expertise beyond its traditional stronghold in oncology.

AstraZeneca’s shares rose by 1.7% following the announcement of the acquisition. This move is part of a series of acquisitions by AstraZeneca this year, including a licensing deal that provided entry into the growing anti-obesity drug market.

Icosavax CEO Adam Simpson expressed optimism about the deal, stating, “We believe it offers the opportunity to accelerate and expand access to our potential first-in-class combination vaccine for older adults at risk from RSV and hMPV.” The U.S.-based company also shared positive interim results from its mid-stage trial of the vaccine on Tuesday.

Currently, there are no treatment or prevention options available for hMPV, and combination vaccines for RSV are limited, making the potential success of Icosavax’s vaccine candidate a significant development in the field of respiratory vaccines.


Joan David-Leonhard

Joan David Leonhard is a recent Pharm.D graduate with a strong passion for the pharmaceutical industry and a particular interest in pharmaceutical media and communication. Her brief internship experience includes roles in pharmacy where she built strong patient-pharmacist relationships and a pharmaceutical media internship where she actively contributed to drug information articles, blog posts, social media engagement, and various media projects.

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