Sunday 24 September 2017

AstraZeneca to buy $1.1bn Pearl

Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

THE UK's second largest drug company AstraZeneca, which employs about 60 people in Ireland, has agreed to buy US company Pearl Therapeutics for as much as $1.15bn (€867m).

This is the London-headquartered company's second acquisition in two weeks. Pearl Therapeutics will help expand its portfolio of respiratory disease treatments as competition for lung medicines increases.

Led by ex-Roche chief operating executive Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca wants to replenish its drug pipeline given that some of its bestselling drugs are facing generic competition.

It recently lost its US patent on a childhood asthma medication, opening up the market to competition from drugmaker Actavis. The company is now pursuing smaller bolt-on acquisitions rather than large purchases. It announced at the end of May that it would buy Omthera Pharmaceuticals, which makes cholesterol-lowering pill Epanova, for as much as €334m.

"This is a sensible deal to try to fix a recognised gap in the pipeline," said Berenberg Bank analyst Alistair Campbell. "AstraZeneca will be late to market and with no obvious differentiation, but there were few options left to the company."

AstraZeneca's Irish presence is mainly a sales and marketing operation based in Dublin.

Irish Independent

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