US-based drug delivery technology company Catalent has agreed to purchase all outstanding shares of specialty healthcare firm Juniper Pharmaceuticals for a total cash consideration of $139.6m, which represents $11.50 per share.

Juniper’s core businesses comprise the Crinone (progesterone gel) franchise and UK-based Juniper Pharma Services unit, which offers pharmaceutical development and clinical trial manufacturing services.

Juniper’s President and CEO Alicia Sector said: “This transaction, which has been approved unanimously by the Juniper Board of Directors following the recommendation of a special committee of independent directors, is the culmination of a diligent and extensive process to pursue strategic alternatives in order to maximize shareholder value.

“Catalent’s offer to acquire Juniper recognizes the value of Juniper’s businesses, Juniper Pharma Services and Crinone.”

Catalent expects this acquisition to complement its current drug development and manufacturing capabilities in the US and Europe.

It will also strengthen Catalent’s formulation development, bioavailability solutions and clinical-scale oral dose manufacturing activities, along with its clinical and commercial supply network.

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Juniper’s solid-state and preclinical formulation screening expertise and technologies for challenging molecules are expected to boost Catalent’s OptiForm Solution Suite platform.

The acquired company also offers bioavailability enhancement solutions for the development of poorly soluble compounds such as nano-milling, hot-melt extrusion, spray drying and lipid-based drug delivery.

“Juniper’s scientific expertise will help our customers unlock the full potential of their molecules and provide better treatments to patients faster.”

Its cGMP clinical manufacturing operations include specialised facilities along with controls for potent and controlled substances.

Catalent Oral Drug Delivery president Jonathan Arnold said: “Juniper’s proven solutions and capabilities will further support Catalent’s strategic goal to be the most comprehensive partner for pharmaceutical innovators.

“Juniper’s scientific expertise in early-phase product development and supply will help our customers unlock the full potential of their molecules and provide better treatments to patients faster.”

Catalent plans to continue supporting the Crinone franchise, which is marketed by Merck in ex-US markets. The company will not be responsible for Juniper’s Intravaginal Ring development pipeline licensed to Daré Bioscience.

The transaction is subject to a majority of Juniper’s outstanding shares being tendered in the offer, as well as other other customary closing conditions, and it is expected to close in the third quarter of this year.