AstraZeneca in $1.15bn Pearl Therapeutics deal

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PHARMA giant AstraZeneca splashed out $1.15 billion (£740 million) on rival Pearl Therapeutics yesterday in its continued efforts to revitalise its diminishing product pipeline.

The deal for US-based Pearl gives Astra a bridgehead in the lung treatment market by allowing it access to a potential new treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is in late-stage development.

Analysts said the move showed that Astra’s new chief executive, Pascal Soriot, believes its respiratory business is a growth area.

Soriot said: “Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease continues to increase worldwide, and there is a growing need for the next generation of inhaled combination products.

“Pearl’s novel formulation technology, together with its development products and specialist expertise, greatly complement AstraZeneca’s long-established capabilities in respiratory disease, one of our core areas.”

Last month, Astra paid £293m for heart specialist Omthera Pharmaceuticals, which uses fish oils to produce treatments for people who are obese, diabetic or suffering from cardiovascular disease.

Analysts said that buying Pearl, whose HQ is in Redwood City, California, filled a gap in Astra’s respiratory portfolio, although it would still be behind rivals including GlaxoSmith-Kline and Novartis in the race to develop a new type of inhaled drug.

Astra’s sales and profits are falling as older medicines lose patent protection, including former big sellers like anti-psychotic drug Seroquel.