AstraZeneca said today it will acquire rights to Almirall’s franchise of respiratory treatments—including its pipeline, development and commercialization rights, and revenues from existing partnerships—in a deal that could net the seller up to $1.22 billion.

Almirall’s respiratory franchise includes the marketed COPD treatment Eklira® (aclidinium); LAS40464, a combination of aclidinium with formoterol that was co-developed with Forest Laboratories (acquired earlier this year by Actavis for about $28 billion) and is under review in Europe and under development in the U.S.

Also in Almirall’s respiratory portfolio are LAS100977 (abediterol), a once-daily, long-acting beta2-agonist (LABA) in Phase II and eyed for registration later this year; an M3 antagonist beta2-agonist (MABA) platform tied to Phase I compound LAS190792 and two preclinical compounds, LAS191351 and LAS194871, and additional pre-clinical programs.

Almirall Sofotec, an Almirall subsidiary focused on developing new devices, will also transfer to AstraZeneca as part of the deal. The subsidiary markets Almirall’s Genuair®, a multi-dose dry powder inhalation device.

AstraZeneca said Almirall’s portfolio would complement its existing respiratory treatments, which include Symbicort® and Pulmicort®, and several investigational compounds. Symbicort generated $3.483 billion in sales last year, while Pulmicort racked up $867 million.

Also complementary, according to the pharma giant, are Genuair and AZ’s metered dose inhaler, which will allow patients their choice of inhalation devices across a range of molecules and combinations.

“Our agreement with Almirall brings strategic and long-term value to AstraZeneca’s strong respiratory franchise, one of our key growth platforms,” AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said in a statement. “By combining our innovative portfolios and leveraging AstraZeneca’s global scientific and commercial capabilities, we will strengthen our ability to address the entire spectrum of care in asthma and COPD.”

Respiratory treatments is one of AstraZeneca’s core therapeutic areas, in a category that includes inflammation & autoimmunity diseases. The company’s two other core therapeutic categories are oncology, and cardiovascular & metabolic disease.

Since halving its core therapeutic areas from six in March 2013 as part of its “Phase 4” restructuring that includes eliminating 5,600 jobs by 2016, AstraZeenca has sought to grow its remaining specialties, including respiratory. Last year it acquired Pearl Therapeutics for up to $1.15 billion, adding a fixed-dose LABA/LAMA combination of formoterol fumarate and glycopyrrolate now in Phase III and set for registration in the U.S. next year and Europe in 2016.

AstraZeneca also stands to gain financially since the deal will give it immediate additional revenue from a marketed drug, and thus contributing to growth. AstraZeneca—which has declared a goal of returning to profitability in 2017—said it expects the transaction to be neutral to core earnings per share in 2015, but add to its core EPS the following year.

AstraZeneca agreed to pay Almirall $875 million upfront, and the remainder through payments tied to development, launch, and sales-related milestones. AstraZeneca said it will also make additional sales-related payments to Almirall.

The deal is subject to regulatory approvals, plus customary terms and conditions. AstraZeneca and Almirall expect to complete their transaction by year’s end. When that happens, “a significant number” of employees dedicated to Almirall’s respiratory business or Almirall Sofotec will join AstraZeneca, the company said.

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