AstraZeneca has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Pearl Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical company focused on the development of inhaled small-molecule therapeutics for respiratory disease, according to AstraZeneca. The potential acquisition cost could hit $1.15 billion and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2013, according to the company.

The acquisition will give AstraZeneca access to a potential new treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and inhaler and formulation technology. Pearl’s lead product, PT003, is a fixed dose combination of formoterol fumarate, a long-acting beta-2-agonist (LABA) and glycopyrrolate, a long-acting muscarinic antagonist (LAMA). The product is currently in late-stage development, according to AstraZeneca.

PT003 is delivered by inhalation via a pressurised metered dose inhaler (pMDI) using Pearl’s novel co-suspension formulation technology. This technology platform will allow AstraZeneca to explore combinations of existing and novel technologies, including a triple fixed dose combination (LABA/LAMA and inhaled corticosteroid) which could be accelerated into Phase II clinical development, the company said.

Under the terms of the agreement, AstraZeneca will acquire 100% of Pearl’s shares for initial consideration of $560 million payable on completion. In addition, deferred consideration of up to $450 million becomes payable if specified development and regulatory milestones are achieved, according to AstraZeneca.

“Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease continues to increase worldwide and there is a growing need for the next generation of inhaled combination products,” said Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca. “Combined with our on-market portfolio…the agreement will enable us to offer further distinctive treatment options across the full spectrum of COPD and asthma to patients, physicians and payers.”