AZ spinoff licenses novel constipation drug to Japanese firm

Sweden's Albireo has reached a licensing deal with a Japanese drugmaker, giving Ajinomoto Pharmaceuticals the rights to develop and market a constipation drug in Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Taiwan.

The drug in question, elobixibat, is a novelly formulated chronic-constipation treatment with a physiological mechanism of action. The oral drug works from within the stomach, modulating the flow of bile from the liver to increase colonic fluid secretion and motivate bowel movements.

Albireo, which spun off from AstraZeneca ($AZN) in 2008, announced positive Phase II results for elobixibat in 2010. Patients with chronic constipation and irritable bowel syndrome reported more frequent bowel movements and significant reduction in symptoms--including bloating and straining--over an 8-week trial. Albireo plans to launch Phase III trials this year, according to its website, and seek approval around the world after that.

The two companies did not disclose the terms of the deal, but said in a release that Ajinomoto will pay Albireo a "significant" upfront fee, followed by milestone payments and double-digit royalties. "It is our great pleasure that we have this opportunity to develop and commercialize elobixibat," Ajinomoto CEO Tomoyasu Toyoda said in a statement. "We will work together with Albireo to file the NDA and launch the product as quickly as possible."

Albireo sees a large unmet need in the world of gastrointestinal treatment, pointing out that 15% of people globally suffer from chronic constipation and 10% to 20% from symptoms of IBS. Furthermore, there is a high rate of dissatisfaction with currently available treatments, according to studies.

- here's the release

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