Edinburgh-based Kelso Pharma has taken the first step in its European expansion strategy with the acquisition of an Italian developer of "hard to make" medicines.

Velit Biopharma has more than 100 partnerships in 48 regions covering 167 products, with 15-plus further launches with existing partners planned from 2024 onwards. These products will be available to commercialise in the UK through Kelso’s existing infrastructure.

Set up in 2020 by industry veteran Tom Stratford, Kelso Pharma is backed by Apposite Capital, a private equity firm that specialises in investment in small and medium-sized healthcare businesses. The company and its private equity partner are looking to grow the business through the acquisition of businesses and products "that improve the lives of patients in a cost-effective and ethical manner".

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The deal follows Kelso's acquisition of Glasgow-based Stirling Anglian Pharmaceuticals (SAP) in January 2022, and last month's  acquisition of two UK approved dermatology products from Germany's Dermapharm.

“Kelso Pharma is founded on our vision to bring innovative, value added, specialty medicines to healthcare markets across Europe and our acquisition of Velit is a perfect fit with this ambition," Mr Stratford said. "Not only does it have great people, but Velit brings with it a powerful portfolio alongside a rich pipeline of niche and generic+ products which Kelso can bring through our existing platforms.

“We plan to build on the strong partnerships that Velit has already formed to create further international success as we build a truly pan-European specialty pharma business.”

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Velit's therapeutic focus includes gastroenterology, dermatology, and women’s health, all of which are complementary to Kelso’s existing portfolio of medicines. In addition Velit has products focusing on oncology and ophthalmology which, alongside Velit’s strong business development and regulatory teams, will further extend Kelso’s in-house capabilities.

Founder and president Nicola Travierso will remain with the business along with the rest of the Velit team, with Mr Travierso joining Kelso’s executive management team. The transaction is conditional on receiving Italian regulatory clearance.

"In Kelso we have found a true kindred spirit with whom we can take Velit to the next level alongside our valued partners," Mr Travierso said. "I look forward with enthusiasm and confidence to this next chapter in the Velit story in combination with Kelso Pharma.”