Niche drug-delivery firm Inyx Inc. is planning its second buyout of the year, through a definitive agreement with the Belgian firm UCB to acquire all assets of Celltech Manufacturing Services Ltd., the UCB subsidiary (formerly part of Celltech Group plc) based in Ashton, UK.

"UCB acquired it about a year and a half ago," said Jay Green, vice president of New York-based Inyx, noting that CMSL is "a longtime customer, and we have a five-year contract with UCB," as well as other agreements.

The purchase price is /27.5 million (US$33.8 million), and the deal is expected to close at the end of this month, financed by way of a non-dilutive, asset-based funding facility provided by Westernbank Business Credit Division of Westernbank Puerto Rico.

The buyout gives Inyx more revenue and profitability right away, plus a base of new customers and new development and production capabilities, including expertise in dry powder inhalers (DPIs) that complements Inyx's work in metered dose inhalers (MDIs) and aerosol sprays.

Specifically, CMSL is expected to contribute annualized revenues in excess of $50 million with high profit margins to Inyx over the first 12 months, and more expected in the future.

Inyx focuses on aerosol drug delivery and products for the treatment of respiratory, allergy, dermatological, topical and cardiovascular conditions, with efforts in prescription and over-the-counter products. The firm also provides specialty pharmaceutical development and production consulting services.

"We're going to be building our own portfolio of products," Green told BioWorld Today. "We think dry powder inhalers are going to become a bigger part of the inhalation area. Up until now, in asthma and other acute respiratory conditions, the market has been pretty much dominated by MDIs. There is a growing consensus that because of new technology they will capture more and more of the market, particularly now that the FDA has ruled on banning [chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs] in MDIs. That basically opens up the door for DPIs to capture market share."

CMSL produces a portfolio of branded and non-branded products for UCB and a number of third parties, operating a plant in Ashton, near Manchester, which also is close to Inyx Pharma Ltd.'s UK plant in Runcorn, Cheshire. The CMSL facility makes pharmaceuticals for the UK, Europe and Asia.

As part of Inyx's buyout, Inyx gets the five-year manufacturing contract from the UCB Group, as well as a long-term product support and services contract - and there's more. Inyx gets three Celltech product licenses as part of the transaction, two for thyroid disorders and one for gout.

Of particular interest is Thyroxine, already marketed overseas for hypothyroidism.

"There has been quite a bit of R&D, getting it ready for marketing in the U.S., and we plan to progress with that," Green said. "It's a niche market, probably annual sales of $300 million."

That drug probably will not be ready for U.S. approval until the end of 2008 or the start of 2009, he said, but it has a longer shelf life than existing therapies. Advancing the gout drug is "not something we would look to do," Green added, pointing out that other products already are available and the acquired compound would "not necessarily bring any big edge" over those.

When the deal with Brussels, Belgium-based UCB is finished, Inyx will change CMSL's name to Ashton Pharmaceuticals Ltd., which will operate under Inyx Europe Ltd., a newly formed, wholly owned subsidiary that also would include Inyx Pharma Ltd.

This spring, Inyx completed its acquisition of certain assets and business of Aventis Pharmaceuticals Puerto Rico Inc. from Aventis Pharmaceuticals Inc., a member of the Paris-based Sanofi-Aventis Group, for $19.7 million. That, too, was financed through non-dilutive, asset-based funding provided by Westernbank.

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