$3.5bn deal adds to Otsuka’s mental health portfolio and strengthens its US presence

Japanese firm Otsuka has agreed to buy US neurological drug specialist Avanir for $3.5 billion (£2.3 billion) in cash. Otsuka justified the deal by suggesting that the two companies’ combined expertise in central nervous system (CNS) medicine will build on Otsuka’s position in psychiatric drugs to ‘evolve into a global CNS pharmaceutical company’.

The deal gives Otsuka access to Neudexta, the only approved treatment for pseudobulbar affect – a rare neurological disorder characterised by uncontrolled emotional displays. Neudexta combines cough preventing opioid dextromethorphan with quinidine, which is more usually used to treat abnormal heart rhythms. Avanir’s pipeline also contains some promising developmental compounds.