Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co has acquired the USA’s Avanir Pharmaceuticals for $3.5 billion, widening its presence in the central nervous system area.

The Japan-headquartered drugmaker’s US subsidiary is paying $17.00 per share in cash, a 13% premium on Avanir's closing price yesterday (December 1). Astellas is getting hold of Nuedexta (dextromethorphan/quinidine), the world’s only approved treatment for
pseudobulbar affect, a neurological disorder characterised by uncontrollable episodes of crying and/or laughing.

Sales of Nudexta for the year ended June 2014 reached $94 million, up 50% on the like, year-earlier period. Over 300 reps promote Nuedexta in the USA, where it was approved in February 2011, 150 of whom were recently hired to accelerate growth.

Arguably of more interest is Avanir’s late-stage compound AVP-786 to treat agitation associated with Alzheimer’s disease. It is also developing treatments for Parkinson's disease and migraine.

Otsuka’s president Taro Iwamoto said that with his firm’s “experience and business track record in the area of mental illnesses with Avanir's strengths in neurologic diseases, we believe that we can evolve into a truly global CNS pharmaceutical company”.