AstraZeneca buys Almirall lung drugs for up to $2.1 billion

Wed Jul 30, 2014 7:51am EDT
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By Ben Hirschler

LONDON (Reuters) - AstraZeneca (AZN.L: Quote) took a major step to build up its respiratory medicine business on Wednesday by striking a deal worth up to $2.1 billion for the rights to Spanish group Almirall's (ALM.MC: Quote) lung drugs.

The British drugmaker, which resisted a $118 billion takeover attempt by Pfizer (PFE.N: Quote) in May, said it would pay an initial $875 million and up to $1.22 billion more if the drugs meet development and sales targets.

The tie-up boosts a key therapeutic area for AstraZeneca, whose Chief Executive Pascal Soriot is determined to show his company has a strong independent future.

Soriot also struck a clinical trial collaboration with Japan's Kyowa Hakko Kirin (4151.T: Quote) for a study that will evaluate a combination of the two companies' drugs in cancer - another important field for AstraZeneca.

For Almirall, the deal with AstraZeneca is a notable win, giving it extra resources to increase its focus on dermatology. The company is a local success story whose shares have strongly outperformed the Spanish market in the past three years.

AstraZeneca will have the right to develop and commercialise Almirall's existing lung drugs - including its recently launched treatment Eklira or aclidinium - as well as its pipeline of experimental therapies.

Almirall Sofotec, an Almirall subsidiary focused on making devices for delivering drugs to the lungs, including the Genuair inhaler, will also transfer to AstraZeneca.

Importantly, the deal gives AstraZeneca access to revenues from a drug already on the market, in Eklira, helping its sales immediately as it struggles with a wave of patent expiries on its own blockbuster medicines.   Continued...

A sign is seen at an AstraZeneca site in Macclesfield, central England May 19, 2014. REUTERS/Phil Noble