AstraZeneca has been boosted by the news that Japanese regulators have given the go-ahead to the company’s asthma drug Symbicort Turbuhaler.

Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has approved Symbicort (budesonide/formoterol) for the maintenance treatment of bronchial asthma in patients aged 16 and over when a combination therapy of an inhaled steroid and a long-acting beta-2 agonist is necessary. The approval is based on data from eight studies carried out in Japan.

Bruno Angelici, executive vice president for international sales and marketing at AstraZeneca, said that the approval will provide “a new treatment option for the approximately five million adults living with asthma in Japan”. It will be co-promoted there by Astellas Pharma, which agreed to make an initial payment of 3.00 billion yen (about $31.5 million) for the rights in August. It may also pay up to 5.5 billion yen more, depending on sales and approval of an additional indication.

Symbicort is already a big-seller in Europe and the USA and second-quarter sales increased 24% to $551 million.