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AstraZeneca coughs up $875m for Almirall to support asthma/COPD pipeline

By Dan Stanton+

04-Aug-2014
Last updated on 04-Aug-2014 at 15:58 GMT

AstraZeneca coughs up $875m for Almirall to support respiratory drugs

AstraZeneca has bolstered its respiratory portfolio and added new bronchodilator technologies through the $875m (€650m) acquisition of Almirall.

The total price of the Barcelona, Spain-headquartered pharma firm could reach $1.22bn following development, launch, and sales-related milestones, but its respiratory assets will strengthen the Pharma Giant’s inhaled asthma and COPD portfolio, adding to the inhaler and particle technology acquired in the $1.5bn Pearl Therapeutics transaction in June 2013.

According to AstraZeneca CFO Marc Dunoyer, in the short-term Almirall “brings greater device choice for patients and add DPI option to complement Symbicort and the Pearl asset.” Symbicort is AZ’s budesonide/formoterol formulation treatment for asthma and COPD which clocked worldwide sales of $1.9bn for the first half, 2014.

“In the medium term, this deal brings novel MABA [M3 antagonist beta2-agonist] and LABA [long acting β2-agonist] bronchodilators, which will allow for once-daily treatment options and novel combination for severe patients,” he continued, during a Q2 2014 results conference call.

As well as being an accelerator into the MABA/LABA market, AZ will boost its inhalation device capabilities by gaining the rights to the Almirall Sofotec subsidiary including a GMP facility in Bad Homburg, Germany, specialising in device development and MDI/DPI testing.

Furthermore, the acquisition is set to boost the firm’s market dominance in Metered Dose Inhaler (MDI), CEO Pascal Soriot added during the call.

He told investors the US respiratory market is currently made up of 70% dry powder inhaler (DPI) and 30% MDI, though that 30% represents the impact Symbicort has made as “the only pMDI formulation” available.

“We need pMDI, and that's certainly what Almirall assets will bring to us” he continued.

Symbicort is one of several products which have shaved market dominance off GlaxoSmithKline’s DPI formulated drug Advair. Last week, GSK reported a 12% drop in Advair revenue year-on-year to $1.1bn, saying Symbicort – as well as Merck’s Singulair and its own respiratory portfolio – has added significant price pressures to its one time market leader.

For the second quarter 2014, AZ reported total sales of $6.5bn, up 4% on the same period last year. Respiratory revenue reached just over $1bn, up 9%, driven by a US Symbicort growth of 25%.

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