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Acton Pharmaceuticals Snares $15M for Inhaled Asthma Drug

Acton Pharmaceuticals, the Marlborough, MA-based developer of an inhalable drug for asthma, said today it has secured $15 million in a Series A financing round led by Sequoia Capital.

The company doesn’t have to navigate most of the usual technology and regulatory risks that are inherent in biotech. Acton is getting started with a license from New York-based Forest Laboratories to an inhalable corticosteroid drug called flunisolide HFA (Aerospan) that was cleared for sale by the FDA back in January 2006. Acton, in a statement, said it plans to complete “certain manufacturing requirements” and then start marketing the product in early 2011.

The market for inhalable corticosteroid drugs, which tamp down an excessive inflammatory response in the lungs of asthmatic patients, is worth an estimated $7 billion a year, Acton said. The company plans to build up its own specialized sales force that will pitch its product to allergists and pulmonologists, with the hopes of eventually adding more products to the portfolio. Its aerosol is made with a propellant that doesn’t use ozone-damaging CFC compounds, which are being phased out of asthma inhalers, Acton said.

“Our shared vision with Sequoia Capital along with our strong capital structure will enable us to complete development of Aerospan and build a substantial sales, marketing, scientific, and business development infrastructure that we believe will attract new opportunities for clinical stage and marketed products,” said CEO John Simon, in a statement.

Acton was founded by Simon and David Kriesler, the company’s president and chief operating officer. Both of them are veterans of Forest Laboratories, although Simon was most recently a vice president at Sepracor, and Kriesler’s last position was at JDS Pharmaceuticals. Scott Carter, who leads healthcare investing for Sequoia, is joining Acton’s board.

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