Salix hands off Relistor, other drugs to Lupin in Canada

Salix Pharmaceuticals ($SLXP), which has its hands full with a tax inversion merger and the integration of Santarus, will hand off Canadian sales of some of its drugs to India's Lupin. The package includes Salix's opioid constipation drug Relistor, a drug which has fallen far short of its initial potential.

Lupin said today that it would make an undisclosed upfront payment for the rights to market Relistor, Zaxine and some other products and will have an exclusive on some of Salix's gastroenterology products there if they get approved. Zaxine is a treatment for adults to help reduce the risk of recurrence of overt hepatic encephalopathy. Lupin said it was establishing itself in Canada and that its sales force would handle marketing of the drugs.

Salix CEO Carolyn Logan has been cutting a variety of deals of late that she says should boost the value of the company. The North Carolina-based Salix announced in July that it would merge with an Ireland-based unit of Cosmo Pharmaceuticals ($COPN) and buy out some of its patents for drugs to treat gastrointestinal diseases for $2.7 billion in stock. The deal was structured so that it will lower Salix's tax bill, an accounting maneuver that a host of companies like AbbVie ($ABBV), Auxilium ($AUXL) and Pfizer ($PFE) see as a way to cut costs.

That deal was announced 8 months after Salix said it would merge with specialty drugmaker Santarus in a $2.6 billion all-cash buyout. The deal added a couple of diabetes products as well as some gastrointestinal drugs to the Salix portfolio.

One gastrointestinal drug that Salix had big hopes for that Lupin will get in Canada is Relistor. Salix in 2011 paid Progenics an up-front license fee of $60 million for the drug. It looked like a good deal at the time because it was projected to have sales of $865 million the next year. Instead it managed only to eke out $37 million. Its sales have been so paltry that Salix now lumps them in with 9 other drugs, which had combined sales in H1 of $41.1 million.

While Salix has been busy with deals, Lupin has been, too. The Economic Times reported that the Indian drugmaker is negotiating with Germany's Merck Serono to manufacture its mature branded drugs and get rights to them in some emerging markets in a deal said to be worth $1.5 billion.

- here's the announcement 
- read the Economic Times story