AstraZeneca to acquire French Novexel

On Wednesday, Anglo-Swedish pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca announced a $350 million deal for the purchase of French antibiotics manufacturer Novexel.

The acquisition will boost the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceuticals giant’s portfolio of anti-infection drugs.

“AstraZeneca has agreed to acquire 100 percent of Novexel’s shares for $350 million in cash… and will pay up to an additional 75 million dollars to Novexel shareholders if specified development milestones are reached,” the company said in a statement.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the acquisition of Novexel will contribute to AstraZeneca’s pipeline of anti-infection drugs, a pharmaceutical area where demand is being driven by the ever-increasing development of bacterial resistance to existing antibiotics.

The deal, which will also expand AstraZeneca’s collaboration with American drug company Forest Laboratories Inc., is focused on Novexel’s two most advanced drug programs, CAZ104 and CEF104, which are being developed to treat infections that have gained resistance to current treatments.

Forest signed an agreement with Novexel in January 2008 granting it the right to develop CEF104 in North America.

“Building AstraZeneca’s anti-infective portfolio has become a strategic priority as antibiotic-resistant bacteria poses a growing threat to human health,” said Anders Ekblom, AstraZeneca Executive Vice-President of Development in a statement.

“The innovative structure of this agreement allows us to build on our existing collaboration with Forest to create value, share costs, and reduce exposure to risk while developing two novel antibiotic combinations that address a growing problem for clinicians and patients. Utilising Novexel’s NXL-104, these combinations have the potential to outwit bacteria that would otherwise be resistant to antibiotics,” Ekblom continued.

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Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland

Norway, which has suspended the use of AstraZeneca's Covid vaccine until further notice, will send 216,000 doses to Sweden and Iceland at their request, the Norwegian health ministry said Thursday.

Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland
Empty vials of the AstraZeneca vaccine. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

“I’m happy that the vaccines we have in stock can be put to use even if the AstraZeneca vaccine has been paused in Norway,” Health Minister Bent Høie said in a statement.

The 216,000 doses, which are currently stored in Norwegian fridges, have to be used before their expiry dates in June and July.

Sweden will receive 200,000 shots and Iceland 16,000 under the expectation they will return the favour at some point. 

“If we do resume the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, we will get the doses back as soon as we ask,” Høie said.

Like neighbouring Denmark, Norway suspended the use of the AstraZeneca jab on March 11 in order to examine rare but potentially severe side effects, including blood clots.

Among the 134,000 AstraZeneca shots administered in Norway before the suspension, five cases of severe thrombosis, including three fatal ones, had been registered among relatively young people in otherwise good health. One other person died of a brain haemorrhage.

On April 15, Norway’s government ignored a recommendation from the Institute of Public Health to drop the AstraZeneca jab for good, saying it wanted more time to decide.

READ MORE: Norway delays final decision on withdrawal of AstraZeneca vaccine 

The government has therefore set up a committee of Norwegian and international experts tasked with studying all of the risks linked to the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which is also suspected of causing blood clots.

Both are both based on adenovirus vector technology. Denmark is the only European country to have dropped the AstraZeneca
vaccine from its vaccination campaign, and said on Tuesday it would “lend” 55,000 doses to the neighbouring German state of Schleswig-Holstein.