Hisamitsu Pharmaceutical Co of Japan has launched a bid to buy the USA’s Noven Pharmaceuticals and will pay around $428 million in cash.

Under the terms of the deal, Hisamitsu, which already has a 4.9% stake in Noven, is paying $16.50 per share, representing a 22% premium on the US firms's closing price on July 13 and up 43% on the stock’s average price over the last 90 days. The deal will make Noven a wholly-owned subsidiary which will continue as a standalone business unit, “operating at its current locations in Miami and New York with its existing work force”, Hisamitsu said.

The Tosu, Saga-based group, which is best-known for its Salonpas over-the-counter pain relief patches, sees Noven as “the ideal catalyst to accelerate Hisamitsu’s strategic objective of increasing our US presence”, said president Hirotaka Nakatomi. He went on to speak of Noven’s “impressive capabilities in transdermal drug development, clinical/regulatory affairs, manufacturing and product commercialisation”.

Noven, which manufactures Daytrana (methylphenidate) attention deficit hyperactivity disorder patches for Shire, also has a joint venture with Novartis, called Novogyne Pharmaceuticals, which markets the oestrogen patches Vivelle-Dot (estradiol) and CombiPatch (estradiol/norethindrone). It also has a division, Noven Therapeutics which sells the antidepressant Pexeva (paroxetine), and the bipolar disorder treatments Lithobid (lithium) and Stavzor (valproic acid), which is also approved for migraine and epilepsy.

Noven, which had first-quarter net income of $4.5 million, up 73% , and sales of $27.6 million (+29%), also presented promising Phase II data on Mesafem (low-dose paroxetine) for hot flushes associated with menopause. Chief executive Peter Brandt, who will leave Noven after a transition period once the deal with Hisamitsu is done, said the data from the 102-patient study “exceeded all our internal expectations from the standpoints of both efficacy and tolerability.”