(By Balaseshan) Ironwood Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: IRWD) and AstraZeneca Plc (NYSE: AZN) have agreed to co-develop and co-commercialize Ironwood's linaclotide in China.
AstraZeneca and Ironwood are jointly responsible for strategic oversight of the development and commercialization of linaclotide in China. AstraZeneca will have primary responsibility for local execution.
Linaclotide is a guanylate cyclase-C (GC-C) agonist that is provided as an oral capsule intended for once-daily administration for the treatment of chronic idiopathic constipation and to treat irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C) in adults.
Under the terms of the collaboration, AstraZeneca will make an upfront payment of $25 million to Ironwood and will share the net profits and losses associated with linaclotide in China, with AstraZeneca receiving 55 percent of each until a milestone is achieved. The the deal will move to an equal split.
Ironwood will also be eligible for $125 million in additional commercial milestone payments contingent on the achievement of certain sales targets.
In addition, the companies agreed that Ironwood's sales force of about 160 experienced clinical sales specialists will promote AstraZeneca's Nexium (esomeprazole magnesium) in the U.S.
This agreement will augment AstraZeneca's existing interactions with gastroenterologists and primary care physicians on behalf of Nexium and the patients who need it. It will also provide Ironwood with an opportunity to increase its presence with the key gastrointestinal physicians in the U.S.
Linaclotide was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in August. In May, Ironwood filed a clinical trial application with the State Food and Drug Administration in China for a phase 3 clinical trial to assess the efficacy and safety of linaclotide in adult patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C).
IBS-C, which is characterized by symptoms of abdominal pain and constipation, is a chronic and prevalent functional gastrointestinal disorder in China, and there are currently few treatment options for this condition.
"This agreement provides our experienced clinical sales specialists with the opportunity to bring two different and effective therapies to physicians for managing their patients who have these prevalent and troublesome gastrointestinal disorders," said Thomas McCourt, chief commercial officer and senior vice president of marketing and sales, at Ironwood.
IRWD is trading down 1.84 percent at $12.27 on Tuesday, while AZN is trading down 1.74 percent at $46.21.