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AstraZeneca Announces Fusion Deal

AstraZeneca became the latest big pharma to buy a company focused on an emerging approach to fighting cancer known as radiopharmaceuticals.

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On Tuesday, the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical said it is buying Fusion Pharmaceuticals for up to $2.4 billion as part of a plan to accelerate the development of next-generation cancer treatments.

With the deal, AstraZeneca joins Eli Lilly, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Novartis in working to develop therapies that can deliver radioactive isotopes directly to cancer cells. It is a highly complex approach, but Novartis has shown it has the potential to be lucrative: Pluvicto, a Novartis therapy for a type of advanced prostate cancer, is expected to surpass $2 billion in annual sales next year, according to analysts polled by Visible Alpha.

AstraZeneca already had a collaboration with Fusion, but the deal deepens the pharmaceutical company’s commitment to the field and, crucially, gives it access to production of a next-generation isotope known as actinium-225.

One of the biggest challenges in radiopharma is its supply chain.

Radiopharma is a nascent field, so there aren’t a lot of late-stage assets left for big pharma to target. That likely means private companies will be pursued more aggressively as well. Shares of radiopharmaceutical company Perspective Therapeutics were up 20% Tuesday morning.

AstraZeneca’s deal shows big pharma isn’t backing down from the nuclear option.



Image: Biotechnology