Philip Morris expands ‘beyond nicotine’ push with acquisition of inhaler maker OtiTopic

Vectura senior executives step down

Strengthening its push into healthcare, Philip Morris International (PMI) Monday announced its acquisition of OtiTopic, a US respiratory drug development company with a late-stage inhalable acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) treatment for acute myocardial infarction, or heart attack.

The acquisition follows PMI’s agreement last month to acquire Vectura, a UK company making breathing inhalers.

“The acquisition of OtiTopic is an exciting step in PMI’s Beyond Nicotine ambitions,” said Jacek Olczak, chief executive. “We have world-class expertise in the research, development, and commercialisation of aerosolisation and inhalable devices to help speed the delivery of this exciting product to market.”

If approved, OtiTopic’s Asprihale can address the significant unmet medical need of the over 83 million people, in the US alone, at intermediate to high risk for myocardial infarction. Delivered through a unique self-administered aerosol, the treatment is expected to move from clinical trials to filing with the US Food and Drug Administration for approval in 2022.

PMI said the acquisition is part of its strategic plan to grow a pipeline of inhaled therapeutics and respiratory drug delivery Beyond Nicotine, adding that it can leverage its expertise and the capabilities of other companies in the Beyond Nicotine portfolio to bring Asprihale to market.

“In the United States alone, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds. With its inhalable version of acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), OtiTopic has developed an asset that promises to have a much faster onset of effect compared to oral ASA,” said Jorge Insuasty, chief life sciences officer, PMI.

“With its acquisition of OtiTopic, PMI looks forward to completing the planned Asprihale registration program and bringing this important treatment to market to address a significant unmet medical need in a clinical condition where every second counts.”

The group had in February identified respiratory drug delivery as a key focus, under broader plans to generate at least $1bn in annual net revenues from nicotine-free products by 2025.

Since 2008, the cigarette giant has invested more than $8bn (£5.7bn) in smoke-free products and is developing a pipeline focused on inhaled therapeutics for medical and wellness applications.