France's Nicox is acquiring Eupharmed, a privately-held Italian ophthalmic company, as part of expansion plans for its eye care business in Europe and the USA.

The Sophia Antipolis-headquartered firm is paying 3.5 million euros in newly-issued Nicox shares, plus potential extra payments of up to 2.4 million euros linked to the achievement of "certain business objectives". Eupharmed had sales of 3.6 million euros in 2012, which are expected to raise to 3.9 million euros this year.

Philippe Masquida, managing director of European and international operations, said the acquisition "is a major step towards achieving our goal of building Nicox’s product range and commercial presence in Europe’s five largest markets". He added that Italy is the one of the largest markets for ophthalmic products in Europe, with sales reaching 430 million  euros in the 12 months to August 2013.

Eupharmed is based in Pero, Milan and its portfolio includes artificial tears, antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and nutraceuticals. Its staff will also help with the launch of Nicox' AdenoPlus, a rapid diagnostic test for acute conjunctivitis.