Solvay has entered into a deal with old partner Abbott Laboratories which will see the Belgian firm get certain co-promotion rights in the USA to the lipid therapy Simcor.

Under the terms of the agreement, Solvay will provide sales support in the USA and contribute to development and promotional expenses. Financial details were not disclosed but Solvay will be “compensated based on product sales”.

Simcor is a fixed-dose combination of the firm’s Niaspan (extended-release niacin) and simvastatin, the active ingredient in Merck & Co’s Zocor which came off-patent last year. The drug, which targets high-density lipoprotein or ‘good’ as well as low-density lipoprotein ‘bad’ cholesterol plus triglycerides in a single pill, was filed with the US Food and Drug Administration in April 2007.

The two companies said that the deal builds upon an ongoing agreement between Abbott and Solvay involving the commercialisation and development of its fenofibrate franchise, led by the old cholesterol-lowerer TriCor and ABT335/SLV34814, which is in Phase III.

Bifeprunox delay not the end of the world

Meantime, Solvay's chief executive Christian Jourquin has told a Belgian newspaper that the recent delay to getting marketing approval for the investigational antipsychotic drug bifeprunox is not a fatal blow to the firm’s future plans.

Solvay and partner Wyeth received a non-approvable letter from the FDA in August after the agency concluded that “efficacy data, when compared to reference drugs, were not sufficient for approval”. That decision, Mr Jourquin told Le Soir, “is a disappointment but a delay of two years does not put the group in danger”.

The CEO added that the acquisition of France’s Fournier a couple of years ago “ allowed us to restructure our pharmaceutical activity in order to improve our financial results” and he claimed that expansion in countries such as Russia, Mexico and India would allow it to deal with pricing pressures in European countries.

Mr Jourquin concluded by saying that Solvay’s priority remains the full integration of Fournier but stated that “if there are interesting acquisition projects, we will look at them”.