ProStrakan Group, a subsidiary of Kyowa Hakko Kirin (KHK), said today it agreed to acquire Archimedes Pharma from its owner the Novo Nordisk Foundation for £230 million (about $394 million) cash.

ProStrakan said the deal will further KHK’s strategic vision of becoming a global specialty pharmaceutical company. By going more global, ProStrakan hopes to better capitalize on  planned launches of several new KHK-developed drugs—including KW-0761 (mogamulizumab), a humanized monoclonal antibody directed against CC chemokine receptor 4 (CCR4), which is over-expressed on various malignant T cells.

KW-0761 has been marketed in Japan since 2012 for relapsed or refractory CCR4-positive adult T-cell leukemia-lymphoma (ATL)—with new indications approved in Japan in March for relapsed or refractory CCR4-positive peripheral T-cell lymphoma (PTCL) and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL). KHK co-developed KW-0761 with Amgen. But in April, the companies agreed to terminate their licensing agreement, which was signed in 2008 and called for up-to-$520 million in payments to KHK.

ProStrakan’s acquisition would combine its offerings with those of Archimedes, a specialty pharma that has focused on developing new treatments for pain, oncology and critical care indications. Archimedes’ lead product is PecFent, a fentanyl nasal spray marketed across Europe for managing breakthrough cancer pain in patients who are already receiving maintenance opioid therapy for chronic cancer pain. PecFent uses an Archimedes-developed drug delivery technology platform.

Other Archimedes products include the cancer drug Gliadel®;  as well as Zomorph® for severe chronic pain and/or pain resistant to other analgesics, especially pain associated with cancer; the severe pain drug Oramorph; the injection Parkinson’s disease drug Apomorphine; and Pabrinex®, intended as a rapid therapy for severe depletion or malabsorption of vitamins B and C, especially in alcoholism.

ProStrakan’s offerings include three drugs sold in the U.S.: 

  • Tostran, marketed by Endo International as Fortesta® (testosterone) gel CIII, and indicated for adult men with low or no testosterone;
  • Sancuso®, a prescription medicine intended to prevent nausea and vomiting in people receiving some types of chemotherapy treatment; and
  • Rectogesic®, marketed by Aptalis as Rectiv® and indicated for moderate to severe pain caused by chronic anal fissures, during and after bowel movements.

Archimedes acquired Rectogesic and Tostran from Cellegy Pharmaceuticals.

ProStrakan said the deal would also increase its presence in four of the largest European markets—the U.K., France, Germany, and Spain. In all four, Archimedes already has sales and marketing operations that ProStrakan said would be complementary.

“The acquisition of Archimedes represents a rare opportunity to enhance the scale of our successful European operations by adding a strong portfolio of high value medicines as well as further strengthening our teams in major European markets,” Tom Stratford, Ph.D., ProStrakan’s CEO, said in a statement.

The deal is subject to antitrust approvals in Germany.

Headquartered in Reading, U.K., with a development facility in Nottingham, U.K., Archimedes finished 2013 with revenues of £41 million ($70 million), up 33% from a year earlier. ProStrakan, which is based in Galashiels, Scotland, generated revenues of £155 million ($265 million), up 20% from 2012. 

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