Ironwood lands $75M Asian deal for linaclotide

Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, a 2009 Fierce 15 company, has scored another rich licensing pact for its late-stage drug for irritable bowel syndrome. Japan's Astellas has agreed to pay Ironwood $75 million in upfront and pre-commercialization milestones for the rights to develop and sell linaclotide in Japan, Indonesia, Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Thailand.

The pact includes a $30 million licensing fee as well as escalating royalties on linaclotide sales. Astellas will handle clinical development in Japan and be responsible for all activities and expenses relating to clinical development, regulatory approval, and commercialization in the Asian territory it licensed. Ironwood and Forest Laboratories expect to report data from two late-stage studies among IBS patients suffering from constipation in the first half of 2010. A success in those trials would leave Ironwood, a Fierce 15 company, and Forest on track to an approval for a drug that would compete for a share of a $25 billion IBS market. Tom Russo, an analyst with Robert W. Baird, has estimated potential sales in 2015 at $572 million.

"This collaboration continues Ironwood's strategy to form partnerships to develop and commercialize linaclotide in the top three pharmaceutical markets: the U.S., Europe, and Japan, while enabling Ironwood to retain potentially fifty percent of the long-term global value of linaclotide in those key regions, should linaclotide meet our sales expectations," said Peter Hecht, Ironwood's chief executive officer.

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