AstraZeneca pays $1.2bn for lung treatment maker

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The Independent Online

AstraZeneca has bought the US lung drug specialist Pearl Therapeutics for $1.15bn (£740m) as it continues to resuscitate its product pipeline through deals.

The drug maker is hoping to restore its fortunes after a string of late-stage research failures. It has also seen a number of big sellers fall out of patent, and its stalwarts Nexium and Crestor are set to lose their crucial US patent protection in 2014 and 2016 respectively.

The purchase of Pearl Therapeutics will give Astra a stronger foothold in the market for lung treatments by giving it access to a potential new treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is in late-stage development. The takeover is a signal that the company's chief executive, Pascal Soriot, pictured, believes its respiratory business is a core growth area.

Astra will pay an initial $560m, plus more if certain targets are met.

Mr 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 are a great complement to AstraZeneca's long-established capabilities in respiratory disease, one of our core therapy areas."

The company has been in dealmaking mood for some time. Last month, it bought the heart specialist Omthera Pharmaceuticals for £293m. Omthera uses fish oils to produce treatments for people who are obese, diabetic or suffering from cardiovascular disease. Its big hope is Epanova, a pill aimed at lowering the level of triglyceride in blood.

Astra's shares rose 6.5p to 3,308p.

Separately the Irish drug maker Elan rejected another bid from Royalty Pharma yesterday, and said it was assessing inquiries from other interested parties.

Last week Royalty raised its bid to $8bn, the third increase in five months. Elan said the gap between what it believed to be the underlying value of the company and the new bid remained significant.