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AstraZeneca to Pay $35 Million for Right to Ardelyx Kidney Drug

AstraZeneca Plc agreed to pay $35 million for the right to develop an experimental drug from Ardelyx to treat kidney-disease complications in Pascal Soriot’s first licensing agreement as AstraZeneca chief executive.

Ardelyx also is eligible for payment of $237.5 million if development goals are met, London-based AstraZeneca said in a statement today. Additional amounts are payable for meeting milestones tied to regulatory approvals and sales, according to the statement. Ardelyx also would receive “double-digit” royalties, AstraZeneca said.

The agreement fits with AstraZeneca’s strategy of licensing drugs from other companies. The company, the U.K.’s second-biggest drugmaker, after GlaxoSmithKline Plc, is seeking new products to replace sales that it’s losing as top-selling medicines face generic competitors. Chairman Leif Johansson said in August he doesn’t expect that strategy to change under Soriot, who joined AstraZeneca Oct. 1.

The agreement gives AstraZeneca the rights to RDX5791, a drug that inhibits a protein involved in the absorption of sodium in the intestine. By decreasing the absorption of dietary sodium, sodium excretion is diverted from the kidney to the feces, relieving the kidney and cardiovascular system of “unhealthy exposure of both sodium and fluid accumulation,” AstraZeneca said.

Ardelyx, a closely held company based in Fremont, California, and AstraZeneca plan to develop the drug for use in end-stage renal disease, chronic kidney disease, irritable bowel syndrome and other illnesses that result from sodium and fluid overload. AstraZeneca will assume development costs and Ardelyx will run mid-stage clinical trials, the companies said.

Ardelyx’s investors include Amgen Inc.’s venture-capital fund, CMEA Capital and New Enterprise Associates, according to the company’s website.

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