Alcon, AstraZeneca to collaborate on eye drug development

August 5, 2009

Alcon Inc. has entered into a 5-year collaborative research agreement with AstraZeneca for the exclusive ophthalmic discovery and potential development rights to AstraZeneca's compound library.

Huenenberg, Switzerland

-Alcon Inc. has entered into a 5-year collaborative research agreement with AstraZeneca for the exclusive ophthalmic discovery and potential development rights to AstraZeneca’s compound library.

The agreement covers multiple classes of small molecules with lead compounds that already have been identified to have a strong scientific rationale for utility in ophthalmic disease, according to Alcon. The two companies are targeting development of drugs to treat sight-threatening conditions such as glaucoma; wet and dry age-related macular degeneration and other retinal diseases; and ocular allergy, dry eye, and other inflammatory eye conditions.

“Our agreement with AstraZeneca stems from our strategy of enhanced access to sources of technologies and compounds through partnership with leading biomedical research organizations,” said Sabri Markabi, MD, Alcon’s senior vice president of research and development and chief medical officer. “The combination of AstraZeneca’s broad capabilities in discovery and Alcon’s scientific expertise in eye disease provides potential for therapies that fulfill unmet medical needs in ophthalmology.”

Jan Lundberg, AstraZeneca’s executive vice president of global discovery research, said, “Alcon and AstraZeneca share a common goal to use leading-edge science to deliver medicines that will benefit patients. We are constantly looking for new opportunities to maximize our strong early pipeline, and this collaboration is proof of its value beyond the therapy areas for which AstraZeneca is renowned.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Alcon will obtain immediate access to thousands of AstraZeneca compounds in a variety of drug classes. AstraZeneca will provide development and regulatory documentation associated with each compound as relevant to ophthalmology. Alcon will perform and fund all research and development activities to move selected compounds forward.

The agreement provides for individual license agreements to be negotiated on a case-by-case basis for any compound that moves into clinical development, including regulatory milestone payments and royalties on product sales. The agreement does not preclude Alcon from pursuing compounds it develops itself or licenses from other companies before phase III confirmatory clinical studies are initiated.

“This strategic partnership represents an extraordinary opportunity to bring Alcon’s global leadership in the field of ophthalmology together with AstraZeneca’s world-class basic research capability to advance treatments in eye care,” said Kevin Buehler, Alcon’s president and chief executive officer. “I believe this partnership will not only benefit both parties but will also lead to new therapies that reduce the incidence of blindness around the world.”