Shionogi of Japan says that its US unit Sciele Pharma is to acquire California-based Victory Pharma, providing it with an “immediate presence in the US pain market.

Under the terms of the agreement, Sciele, which was acquired by Shionogi in a $1.4 billion deal last year, will pay $150 million for Victory. The San Diego-headquartered firm posted sales last year of $57 million and has a 182-strong workforce, 120 of whom are in sales and marketing.

Privately-held Victory’s lead product is Naprelan, which the company notes is the only branded, once-daily sustained release formulation of naproxen, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Chief executive Matt Heck noted that with the “well-publicised” cardiovascular toxicity concerns regarding COX-2 inhibitors, “the treatment paradigm is shifting back to traditional NSAID therapies”.

As such, Naprelan “is well positioned for this shift and the franchise appears to have additional growth potential”, he concluded. Elan Corp developed the drug and manufactures Naprelan at its facility in Athlone, Ireland.

Ed Schutter, chief operating officer at Sciele, said that the acquisition provides “an immediate expansion into the pain market” for the company, and “establishes a platform” from which to acquire products in that field. It also “aligns Sciele with Shionogi’s focus in pain management”, he added.