Circassia snags a pair of asthma biotechs for $371M

Circassia, the U.K. biotech that pulled off a major IPO last year, spent a combined $371 million on two asthma-focused drug developers in an effort to expand its pipeline beyond its home turf of allergy immunotherapies.

The Oxford-headquartered company is paying about 1.8 billion Swedish krona ($214 million) for Sweden's Aerocrine and as much as £100 million ($157 million) for U.K. biotech Prosonix, funding the deals with a £275 million ($432 million) private placement. Aerocrine, a Karolinska Institute offshoot, is focused on designing and marketing diagnostics for asthma and other airway diseases, while Prosonix is developing proprietary and generic treatments for asthma and COPD.

Circassia has thus far devoted its efforts to allergy immunotherapies, advancing treatments addressing cat, grass, dust mite and ragweed allergies. Expanding into asthma and COPD is a logical next step, CEO Steve Harris said, at once broadening Circassia's pipeling and marketing capabilities.

"We believe Aerocrine's established commercial infrastructure, which is already targeting our core potential customers in key markets, will optimise the launch of Cat-SPIRE, which is the first of our next generation allergy immunotherapies, and which remains on track to report pivotal phase III results in H1 2016," Harris said in a statement. "Additionally, Prosonix's innovative technology gives us a portfolio of near-term products targeting asthma and other respiratory diseases, which complement our current pipeline and should enable us to further leverage Aerocrine's commercial infrastructure."

Circassia made a splash in early 2014 with a $332 million London IPO, the U.K.'s biggest biotech debut in decades, analysts said.

- read the statement