(Reuters) – Warburg Pincus [WP.UL] is seeking a buyer for Archimedes Pharma, the British-based firm with a promising treatment for sudden bouts of pain in cancer sufferers, a person familiar with the matter said on Friday.
The global private equity firm is exploring options for the unit and has contacted pharmaceutical companies in Europe and the United States about a possible sale, the person said. It hopes a deal could be wrapped up in the coming months.
The possible sale is the latest sign of pharmaceutical sector dealmaking — one of the busiest areas in an otherwise subdued mergers and acquisitions (M&A) market this year.
The industry’s big players, are grappling with a patent expiry crisis, aiming to cut costs and find new sources of growth.
Archimedes Pharma had sales of just 20.4 million pounds ($30.3 million) in 2008.
But it aims to launch NasalFent, a nasal spray to treat so-called “breakthrough” cancer pain, next year and hopes NasalFent, which relies on the opiate fentanyl, could generate annual sales of $500 million or more, the person said.
Healthcare is the single biggest sector for Warburg Pincus, which also owns U.S. eyecare company Bausch & Lomb, and has about $30 billion of assets under management across all sectors.
It has invested more than $65 million in Archimedes since 2005.
Archimedes operates in Britain, France, Germany and Ireland and is led by Chief Executive Richard de Souza, who previously held top roles at Shire Pharmaceuticals (SHP.L), Warner Lambert and Smith Kline Beecham.
Warburg Pincus and Archimedes Pharma declined to comment.
By Quentin Webb
(Editing by Douwe Miedema)