Firm plans to spin out Aeroquin assets and staff into new company.

Gastroenterology-focused specialty pharmaceuticals company Axcan is buying Mpex Pharmaceuticals to obtain the latter’s Phase III-stage Aeroquin™ therapy for treating pulmonary infections in cystic fibrosis patients. Aeroquin is an aerosol formulation of levofloxacin. Axcan says it plans to spin out the Aeroquin assets into a new company, along with the Mpex staff, which will be based at Mpex’ current site in San Diego. The latter claims estimates suggest the market for Aeroquin could be worth over $350 million a year.

Axcan’s move to acquire Mpex follows on from its $538 million, $12 per share cash buyout of specialty pharmaceuticals firm Eurand, which was completed in February. Eurand’s lead marketed product, Zenpep, is a pancreatic enzyme product for the treatment of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency in cystic fibrosis and other conditions.

Mpex Pharmaceuticals is a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing therapeutics that target antibiotic resistance, with a particular focus on gram-negative organisms. Aeroquin is the firm’s lead product. Mpex is in addition developing a preclinical pipeline of inhibitors of bacterial antibiotic-resistance efflux pumps. The firm claims there are currently no approved treatments that target this cause of drug resistance. Mpex entered into a worldwide strategic alliance with GlaxoSmithKline in 2008 to develop novel efflux pump inhibitors in combination with a variety of existing and development-stage antibiotics.

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