AstraZeneca pays $185M to license obesity drug candidate

Nov. 9, 2023

AstraZeneca announced this week that it will pay $185 million to license an investigational obesity drug from the Chinese biotech Eccogene.

Looking to find a foothold in a surging obesity market now projected to hit $100 billion, AstraZeneca will be acquiring ECC5004, an investigational oral once-daily glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonist (GLP-1RA) for the treatment of obesity and type-2 diabetes has demonstrated good tolerability and promising results in phase 1 trials. 

Under the terms of the agreement, Eccogene is also eligible will receive an additional $1.825 billion in clinical, regulatory, and commercial milestones and tiered royalties on product net sales. 

The pill proposes a new effort by AstraZeneca to gain traction in the GLP-1 arena. In an April earnings report, AstraZeneca had shared its "strategic decision" to discontinue the development of once-daily cotadutide, a dual GLP-1 and glucagon receptor agonist, and focus on AZD9550, a once-weekly injectable GLP-1 glucagon co-agonist, and the broader NASH pipeline. 

Yesterday, the U.S. FDA approved Eli Lilly's tirzepatide injection, branded Zepbound, for chronic weight management in adults with obesity or overweight. The treatment, which Lilly expects to be available in the U.S. by the end of the year, will go head to head against Novo Nordisk's blockbuster, Wegovy.