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Rights to US biotech company Targacept’s TC-5214 experimental antidepressant have been bought by AstraZeneca in a deal worth up to $1.24 billion (£720 million).
The drug, a nicotinic channel blocker that works in a novel way to tackle major depression, is due to enter final phase III clinical trials midway through next year.
Targacept will receive $200 million upfront if the deal wins US antitrust clearance, and further payments of $540 million and $500 million if certain sales milestones are achieved.
Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca faces imminent loss of patent protection for heartburn treatment Nexium and Seroquel for schizophrenia, and badly needs a pipeline of profitable new drugs.
The antidepressant market is currently dominated by serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, such as Eli Lilly’s Prozac, which is now out of patent, but these drugs work well in less than half the population.
Copyright Press Association 2009