Abbott Laboratories is getting access to Neurocrine Biosciences’ investigational endometriosis treatment elagolix in a deal that could be worth $575 million.

The US major is boosting its late-stage pipeline with elagolix for the treatment of endometriosis-related pain. The treatment is a first-in-class oral gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) antagonist, which has recently completed a Phase IIb study in endometriosis and there are plans to evaluate elagolix for the treatment of uterine fibroids.

Under the terms of the agreement, Abbott will receive worldwide exclusive rights to elagolix and all next-generation GnRH antagonists for women's and men's health. Cashwise, it will pay an upfront fee of $75 million and will fund all ongoing development activities, while Neurocrine is eligible to receive milestone payments of approximately $500 million, plus royalties.

Abbott's senior vice president for pharmaceutical R&D, John Leonard, said that “extensive preclinical and clinical experience with elagolix suggests this drug could be an important advance for women with endometriosis and uterine fibroids, highly prevalent conditions where there is a need for new treatments”. He added that the deal enhances Abbott's late-stage pipeline, "with the potential for additional compounds in earlier-stage development”.

It has been estimated that 100 million women worldwide suffer from endometriosis, in which small pieces of the endometrium are found outside the womb. Abbott says that “the annual direct and indirect costs of the condition are estimated to exceed $20 billion in the USA alone”.