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AstraZeneca has entered two agreements in Japan and China as part of its aim to strengthen its operations in these regions to meet growing sales.

In Japan, the company agreed to buy Takeda Pharmaceutical‘s core respiratory business for $575m.

The deal will give AstraZeneca the global rights to lung drug roflumilast, Alvesco and Omnaris (ciclesonide).

Roflumilast is sold under the name Daliresp in the US and as Daxas in other countries. It is for treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), while Alvesco is indicated to treat asthma and Omnaris for allergic rhinitis.

Upon completion of the acquisition, which will also include regional and local products, as well as several pre-clinical assets, around 200 Takeda employees will be transferred to AstraZeneca.

The British firm has been marketing Daliresp in the US since the acquisition of the product rights from Actavis in March.

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The acquisition of worldwide rights will support AstraZeneca’s respiratory franchise and complement its treatments portfolio for severe COPD, the company noted.

"Daxas in particular adds to our portfolio of treatments for patients with severe COPD."

AstraZeneca global portfolio and product strategy executive vice-president Luke Miels said: "The agreement with Takeda complements our respiratory business, one of our three main therapy areas, supports our return to growth and will be immediately accretive to earnings from 2016.

"Daxas in particular adds to our portfolio of treatments for patients with severe COPD."

Separately, AstraZeneca said it would invest up to $100m in Chinese biologics firm WuXi AppTec for the option to acquire the company.

The company also intends to invest $50m to build an additional development and launch facility alongside its existing manufacturing site in Wuxi City to support the development and manufacture of new small molecules discovered in China and its global R&D sites.

The alliance builds on an existing joint venture between MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, and WuXi AppTec. The alliance is to develop and commercialise biological treatment for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, MEDI5117, in China.

Image: AstraZeneca headquarters in London, UK. Photo: courtesy of AstraZeneca Plc.