Astrazeneca buys licence for new anti-asthma treatment

Astrazeneca, the UK pharmaceutical giant that rejected a takeover bid by US rival Pfizer, yesterday bought the right to distribute a new severe asthma therapy from Synairgen.

The £134m deal included £4.31m paid upfront to Synairgen and gradually increasing royalty fees for the Southampton-based company.

Inhaled anti-viral drug SNG001 has a primary target market in the US and Europe. Aim-listed Synairgen has progressed SNG001 to the final stage of clinical trials, with current results indicating “blockbuster sales potential”.

Navid Malik of the biotech research team at Cenkos Securities said this was a “landmark deal in the UK biotechnology sector, following a drought of deals in recent years, and emphasises in our view the attractiveness of the UK biotechnology market in terms of opportunity and untapped value”.

The respiratory drug market is predicted to grow in the future, with Astrazeneca, GSK and Novartis leading the global market.

“Respiratory disease is a core therapeutic area for Astrazeneca, and a key growth platform for the company,” said Maarten Kraan, head of Astrazeneca’s respiratory medicine division.

Astrazeneca closed up 0.51 per cent at 4,422.5p. Shares in Synairgen jumped 34 per cent to 71p.

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