AstraZeneca has announced plans to sell certain prescription medicine rights for Nexium and Vimovo to German pharmaceutical company Grünenthal Group under a $922m deal.

Nexium (esomeprazole) is a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) indicated to prevent and treat gastric ulcers caused by pain-relieving non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), as well as other gastrointestinal reflux conditions.

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Under the deal, Grünenthal will obtain rights to Nexium in 33 European countries.

Vimovo is a fixed-dose combination tablet of naproxen, a pain-relieving NSAID and esomeprazole.

It has been developed to treat inflammatory diseases such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis in patients who are at risk of NSAID-related gastric or duodenal ulcers.

Through the transaction, AstraZeneca will transfer Vimovo global commercialisation rights, except those in the US and Japan. The drug is patent protected in select European markets until 2025.

“The pharmaceutical company will receive an upfront payment of $700m from Grünenthal for Nexium.”

In the first half of this year, Nexium recorded $121m sales in Europe, while Vimovo global sales were $37m, excluding the US and Japan.

AstraZeneca global product and portfolio strategy executive vice-president Mark Mallon said: “The divestment agreements allow us to realise value from our successful medicines while redeploying our resources on developing innovative medicines for patients across our three main therapy areas, which we expect to drive growth for AstraZeneca.”

The pharmaceutical company will receive an upfront payment of $700m from Grünenthal for Nexium. AstraZeneca is also eligible for up to $90m in future milestones and sales-related payments.

Grünenthal will pay $115m upfront for Vimovo, along with potential milestones and sales-related payments of up to $17m in future.

Subject to regulatory approvals, the deal is expected to close in December.

AstraZeneca retains rights to commercialise Nexium in all ex-European markets, where it holds the licences. The company will manufacture and supply the drug under a long-term supply agreement.