UK-based pharma Mallinckrodt is buying US biopharma Sucampo Pharmaceuticals for around $1.2 billion.

The move will give Mallinckrodt instant access to sales from Sucampo’s bowel drug Amitiza (lubiprostone), and also beefs up its rare diseases pipeline with the addition of VTS-270, in Phase III development for Niemann-Pick Type C, and CPP-1X/sulindac, also in Phase III but for Familial Adenomatous Polyposis.

Amitiza is approved in the US for certain patients with chronic idiopathic constipation, irritable bowel syndrome with constipation, and opioid-induced constipation in adults with chronic, non-cancer pain, and raked in global annual sales last year of around $456 million.

US regulators are currently reviewing a supplemental New Drug Application (sNDA) to expand the drug’s treatment scope to include children aged six to 17 years with pediatric functional constipation (PFC).

The condition affects around 18 percent of the pediatric population and, if approved, Amitiza would be the only prescription therapy available to these patients.

Also on the books is Rescula (unoprostone isopropyl ophthalmic solution), which is indicated for ocular hypertension and open-angle glaucoma, and currently marketed in Japan, with annual net sales of approximately $9 million.

"Mallinckrodt's acquisition of Sucampo is the latest milestone towards our vision of becoming an innovation-driven specialty pharmaceutical growth company focused on improving outcomes for patients with severe and critical conditions," said chief executive and president of the firm Mark Trudeau, commenting on the move.

The transaction has been cleared by the Boards of Directors of both companies, and is expected to complete sometime during the first quarter.