Circassia Pharmaceuticals is exercising an option to acquire full US commercial rights to AstraZeneca’s Tudorza.

The firm already promotes the COPD therapy in the US under a profit share arrangement covering the drug and fellow COPD therapy Duaklir (aclidinium/formoterol), established by the two companies in April last year.

Steve Harris, Circassia’s chief executive, said taking on board full US commercial rights to Tudorza (aclidinium) represents a “strategic opportunity” for the firm, as it gives “significantly more control of the product’s commercialisation strategy”.

“With prescription levels continuing to stabilise, we now have a robust foundation from which to grow the product,” he went on to say.

Circassia is launching a dedicated COPD sales force in the US alongside a focused NIOX team (which promotes the firm’s NIOX technology for assisting with the diagnosis and management of airway inflammation associated with asthma), “which we believe will improve promotion of our existing products and provide a platform for the launch of Duaklir, once approved,” Harris added.

Under the terms of Circassia’s agreement with AZ, completion of the option exercise will trigger a payment of $5 million.

A deferred Tudorza option payment of $20 million will be payable upon approval of Duaklir in addition to deferred consideration of $100 million, as per the companies’ agreement.

Circassia said anticipates completing the option exercise on December 31, 2018.