AstraZeneca buys rights to Almirall respiratory franchise

Anglo-Swedish drugmaker will pay up to US$2.1bn to expand its respiratory medicine business

AstraZeneca has taken a step forward in building up its respiratory medicine business by purchasing the rights to the Spanish group's respiratory franchise for up to US$2.1bn.

AstraZeneca will make an initial payment of $875m on completion, and up to $1.22bn in development, launch and sales-related milestones. The Anglo-Swedish group has also agreed to make various sales-related payments.

The company will have the right to develop and commercialise Almirall’s existing respiratory business, including rights to revenues from Almirall’s existing partnerships, as well as its pipeline of investigational drugs, including Eklira (aclidinium); LAS40464, the combination of aclidinium with formoterol which has been filed for registration in the EU and is being developed in the US; LAS100977 (abediterol), a once-daily long-acting beta2-agonist (LABA) in Phase II; an M3 antagonist beta2-agonist (MABA) platform in pre-clinical development (LAS191351, LAS194871) and Phase I (LAS190792); and multiple pre-clinical programmes.

Almirall Sofotec, an Almirall subsidiary focused on the development of innovative proprietary devices, will also transfer to AstraZeneca.

Our agreement with Almirall brings strategic and long-term value to AstraZeneca’s strong respiratory franchise

Almirall’s pipeline of respiratory drugs and its medical device capabilities further strengthen AstraZeneca’s respiratory portfolio, which includes Symbicort and Pulmicort, as well as investigational medicines in development. The addition of aclidinium and the combination of aclidinium with formoterol, both in the proprietary Genuair device, will allow AstraZeneca to offer patients a choice between dry powder and metered dose inhaler devices across a range of molecules and combinations.

The two companies anticipate that a significant number of employees dedicated to the respiratory business, including Almirall Sofotec employees, will transfer to AstraZeneca.

Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive of AstraZeneca, said: 'Our agreement with Almirall brings strategic and long-term value to AstraZeneca’s strong respiratory franchise, one of our key growth platforms.

'We will benefit from immediate and growing product revenues which we anticipate will be rapidly accretive to earnings.'

'By combining our innovative portfolios and leveraging AstraZeneca’s global scientific and commercial capabilities, we will strengthen our ability to address the entire spectrum of care in asthma and COPD.'

R&D will remain a key part of Almirall’s business going forward

Jorge Gallardo, President of Almirall, said: 'This important agreement allows us to better develop our assets and expertise in respiratory with AstraZeneca, an experienced player in this therapeutic area. It also allows us to better balance the costs, risks and returns of the respiratory business while retaining an important economic interest in its future success. All this constitutes a very solid baseline to move more aggressively in speciality areas and particularly towards becoming a global dermatology player. R&D will remain a key part of Almirall’s business going forward and hopefully a significant long-term growth driver.'

The companies anticipate that the transaction will complete by the end of the year.

As of 30 June, Almirall's total revenues were €433.4m (+5.6%) comprising net sales of €403.7m (+17.4%) and other income of €29.7m (-55.4%).

Gross profit in the first half was €281.1m (69.9% of net sales) improving significantly compared with the same period in 2013 (66%) driven by a more favourable mix of proprietary sales.

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