UK firm Shire has sold off a suite of ‘non-core’ products to Spanish group Almirall for a cash deal worth $213 million, to help it focus on becoming a key player in certain speciality markets.

Under the deal, Almirall has snapped up certain European rights to: the dermatology products Solaraze (diclofenac sodium) and Vaniqa (eflornithine hydrochloride); Lodine (etodolac) for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis; Colazide (balsalazide) for mild-to-active ulcerative colitis; the painkiller Meptid (meptazinol hydrochloride); Cebutid (flurbiprofen) for the treatment of RA and OA symptoms; Robaxin (methocarbamol) for relief of muscular pain; and Mintec (peppermint oil) for the relief of discomfort associated with irritable bowel syndrome. These products are principally sold by Shire in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Ireland.

According to Shire, these products are no longer central to its strategy of building “market leading positions” in specialty markets. The group’s key interests now lie in developing competitive products for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and human genetic therapies, expanding its gastrointestinal and renal diseases businesses and, with the recent purchase of Renovo’s anti-scarring drug Juvista (human recombinant TGF_3) in August, building a new specialty area of regenerative medicine.

The funds generated from the Almirall deal will be sunk back into driving the growth of the business, a company spokesperson told PharmaTimes, and particularly promoting the success of its products around the globe. For example, Shire says it plans to expand its ADHD expertise to markets outside the US within the next two years, with an initial focus on the European Union.

Almirall boosts UK presence

And the move should help Almirall gain a stronger foothold in the UK and other European markets. “We are very satisfied with this acquisition since it expands our international presence in a critical market like the UK and reinforces our position as one of the key European specialty pharmaceutical companies,” explained the firm’s chief executive Dr Jorge Gallardo.

Shire is expecting the deal to close in early November, providing that customary closing conditions are satisfied, the spokesperson told PharmaTimes, and added that, if this is achieved, the sales teams for the divested products - including 40 in-house representatives - will then transfer over to Almirall.