AstraZeneca plans to buy Pearl Therapeutics in a deal valued at up to $1.15 billion.

AstraZeneca, Pearl Therapeutics, acquisition, respiratory disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD, PT003, Pascal Soriot, Kevin Ferro, Vatera Healthcare Partners

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AstraZeneca to acquire respiratory drug maker

June 10th, 2013

LONDON – AstraZeneca plans to buy Pearl Therapeutics in a deal valued at up to $1.15 billion.

AstraZeneca said Monday that the the acquisition of Redwood City, Calif.-based Pearl,  which specializes in the development of inhaled small-molecule therapeutics for respiratory disease, will give it access to a potential new treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), currently in late-stage development, as well as to inhaler and formulation technology that will provide a platform for future combination products.

Pearl's lead product, PT003, is a fixed-dose combination of formoterol fumarate, a long-acting beta-2-agonist (LABA) and glycopyrrolate, a long-acting muscarinic antagonist (LAMA). LABA/LAMA combinations are expected to become an important new class of treatment for COPD, according to AstraZeneca. PT003 is delivered by inhalation via a pressurized metered dose inhaler (pMDI) using Pearl's novel co-suspension formulation technology. AstraZeneca noted that the platform will allow it to explore combinations of current and new technologies, including a triple fixed-dose combination (LABA/LAMA and inhaled corticosteroid) that could be accelerated into Phase II clinical development.

"Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease continues to increase worldwide, and there is a growing need for the next generation of inhaled combination products," stated Pascal Soriot, chief executive officer of AstraZeneca. "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. Combined with our on-market portfolio, including Symbicort, and our strong pipeline, the agreement will enable us to offer further distinctive treatment options across the full spectrum of COPD and asthma to patients, physicians and payers."

Pending customary regulatory approvals, the acquisition deal is expected to close in the third quarter of this year.

"We have been impressed with AstraZeneca’s expertise, focus and speed of execution and are delighted to be joining the group, a global leader in respiratory disease, as we believe that Pearl will be an excellent fit for its respiratory portfolio," commented Kevin Ferro, chairman of Pearl Therapeutics and CEO of Vatera Healthcare Partners, Pearl's lead investor. "We believe AstraZeneca will provide significant value in supporting the further development and registration of our lead product, PT003, and in leveraging our technology platform to realize future products, including a triple-agent therapy for respiratory disease."

A progressive disease related mainly to tobacco smoking, air pollution or occupational exposure, COPD can cause obstruction of airflow in the lungs, resulting in debilitating bouts of breathlessness. It affects an estimated 210 million people worldwide and is predicted to be the third-leading cause of death by 2020, AstraZeneca reported. Although COPD is widely seen as a disease of the elderly, 50% of patients are estimated to be between 50 and 65 years of age.