Pfizer has set its acquisition crosshairs on Californian ADHD specialist NextWave, and looks set to spend $700m to buy the company.

NextWave is a privately held firm focused on the development and commercialisation of products for the treatment of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and related central nervous system disorders.

The deal could be worth $700 million, with Pfizer making a $20 million option payment to NextWave in the second quarter to establish a merger agreement. The company will pay $255 million when the deal closes, and agreed to pay NextWave another $425 million based on sales milestones.

Pfizer is hoping to buy into the firm’s new drug Quillivant XR (methylphenidate hydrochloride), the first once-daily liquid medication approved in the USA for the treatment of ADHD. The drug was developed in conjunction with Tris Pharma, but NextWave holds rights to the drug in North America.

A liquid version of the drug is intended to make administration easier, especially for children, where swallowing medicine can be easier than taking a tablet.

The drug received approval from the FDA just last month, and is expected to be available in the USA from January next year. The firm also has an advanced-stage study of the tablets in process, and aims to submit the product for US approval next year.

Pfizer already has established products in its CNS portfolio, including its anti-depressant Effexor and Aricept, its Alzheimer’s drug which it co-markets with Eisai.

“This agreement demonstrates our focused expansion of the established products US brands business to offer a diverse portfolio of high-quality medicines that meet patients’ needs,” said Albert Bourla, president and general manager in Pfizer’s established products business unit. “By combining the advantages of Quillivant XR with Pfizer’s commercialisation expertise, we will be able to provide ADHD patients and their caregivers a new treatment option.”