European speciality pharma Norgine has raised eyebrows by snapping up a 12.6% stake in ProStrakan, while UK drugmaker Shire Pharmaceuticals has completed its acquisition of Belgium’s Movetis.

Nearly 13% of ProStrakan now belongs to self-classified pan-European firm Norgine, after the latter bought 25.5 million shares in the Galashiels, Scotland-based group, sending its share price up more than 20% as investors revelled in some positive news at last.

ProStrakan stock has received a real beating in recent months following a stream of disasters. Back in September, the firm’s share price plummeted after it announced it would not be able to meet demand for Sancuso, a transdermal patch for the prevention of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Added to which, US approval for the cancer pain drug Abstral was delayed, and chief executive Wilson Totten jumped ship.

The move has sparked speculation of a future merger, and while Norgine said it has “no current intention” to make a takeover offer for ProStrakan, it did note that it will “continue to consider its options in relation to its holding” in the firm.

Shawn Manning and Elizabeth Klein, analysts at Singer Capital Markets, said they believe the stake “represents an ‘option to acquire’ an essentially synergistic European business,” and they note the share purchase “may serve to inform other ProStrakan shareholders of Norgine’s interest”, according to Bloomberg.

Movetis belongs to Shire

Meanwhile, Shire Pharmaceuticals announced this week that its purchase of Belgian group Movetis is now done and dusted, after its wholly-owned subsidiary Shire Holdings Luxembourg successfully acquired all of the firm’s issued shares and warrants.

The move will give Shire a stronger foothold in the gastrointestinal arena, not only through Resolor (prucalopride), Movetis’ recently launched therapy for constipation in women, but also via the latter’s portfolio of developmental drugs, which includes two Phase II drugs - M0002 for ascites and M0003 for the symptomatic treatment of heartburn and regurgitation.