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AstraZeneca Licenses Two Nektar Compounds

by Michael McCoy
September 28, 2009 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 87, ISSUE 39

AstraZeneca is licensing two drugs from Nektar Therapeutics that are being developed to treat opioid-induced constipation. The deal is worth $125 million for Nektar, plus potential milestone payments. The first drug, NKTR-118, combines naloxol, a derivative of the opioid-antagonist naloxone, with polyethylene glycol. Owing to the polymer component of the drug, its penetration across the blood-brain barrier is limited, so it doesn’t interfere with an opioid’s analgesic effect. The second drug, NKTR-119, is still in early-stage development and will combine NKTR-118 with select opioids. Separately, Eli Lilly & Co. has sold Adolor the rights to OpRA III, an opioid-receptor antagonist to treat gastrointestinal issues associated with opioid analgesics. Lilly gets a $2 million up-front fee and could receive an additional $70 million in milestone payments.

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