Horizon Pharma acquires U.S. rights to Pozen drug Vimovo

Pozen announced Tuesday that Horizon Pharma USA will acquire the U.S. rights to Vimovo, an arthritis pain reliever, from AstraZeneca for a one-time upfront payment of $35 million.

Unter the terms of the deal, Chapel Hill-based Pozen will continue to receive a 10 percent royalty on net sales of Vimovo products sold in the U.S., with guaranteed minimum royalty payments of $5 million next year and $7.5 million each year thereafter.

Pozen shares rose nearly 15 percent Tuesday after the news was announced, closing at $6.68, up 85 cents.

Deerfield, Ill.-based Horizon will take over the sales and marketing of Vimovo in the U.S., and will take over all patent-related defense costs related to such litigation. Pozen and AstraZeneca have already filed lawsuits against several generic drug manufacturer looking to make cheaper copycat versions of Vimovo.

AstraZeneca, which has been Pozen’s long-time corporate partner in developing and commercializing Vimovo, will continue to have the rights to commercialize the drug outside the U.S.

Earlier this month Pozen reported that $1.6 million of its $2.6 million in revenue in the third quarter came from Vimovo royalty payments. Vimovo sales totaled $23 million in the quarter, up 72 percent from the third quarter of 2012.

Horizon expects to begin selling Vimovo early next year. It plans to expand its primary sales force from 150 to 250 to promote Vimovo and Horizon’s drug Duexis.