AstraZeneca acquires paediatric asthma development programmes from Verus Pharmaceuticals

The UK''s second largest pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has acquired three paediatric asthma development programmes from privately held San Diego paediatric-oriented specialty pharmaceutical company Verus Pharmaceuticals, Inc, in a deal potentially valued at $310 million.

According to Verus, the deal includes the North American rights to a Captisol-enabled budesonide solution (controller medication), a proprietary short-acting beta agonist solution (rescue medication), a customized version of eFlow (novel nebuliser delivery device) for use with both medications, and other intellectual property and related assets from Verus.

Under the terms of the agreement, AstraZeneca will pay Verus an upfront payment of $30 million, development expense reimbursements, and a potential earn-out payment of $280 million. No further terms have been disclosed.

"We are excited to have completed this transaction with AstraZeneca, the North American leader in pediatric asthma treatment innovation, and are eager to collaborate with them to address the multiple unmet medical needs in this rapidly expanding patient population," said Robert W. Keith, president and chief operating officer of Verus. "This transaction allows us to refocus our time and resources on our other emerging development programs, including those targeting unmet needs associated with related atopic diseases and conditions."

"AstraZeneca is proud to be a part of these next generation development programs that hold the potential to help millions of children suffering from asthma and may positively impact their quality of life," said Jim Helm, Vice President respiratory primary care at AstraZeneca.

Asthma is the most common chronic childhood illness affecting almost 10 per cent of children in the United States. Approximately 6.5 million children under the age of 18 have been diagnosed with asthma and the prevalence rates have more than doubled since 1980. For children under the age of 15, each year asthma accounts for 3.5 million doctor visits, 650,000 emergency room visits and 200,000 hospitalisations. The estimated annual cost of treating asthma in children under the age of 18 is $3.2 billion.

Verus is building a portfolio of products for the unmet medical needs of children through acquisitions and alliances, with an initial focus on the treatment of asthma, allergies, and related diseases and conditions.

AstraZeneca is a major international healthcare business engaged inresearch, development, manufacturing and marketing of prescription pharmaceuticals and supplier for healthcare services. AstraZeneca is one of the world''s leading pharmaceutical companies with healthcare sales of US $26.47 billion and is a leader in gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory, oncology and infection product sales.