AstraZeneca has terminated its collaboration with the USA’s MAP Pharmaceuticals which involved the development of a potential asthma treatment for children some four months after the drug failed in a late-stage trial.

The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker has pulled out of the pact, a move that comes as no surprise given that MAP announced in February that its initial Phase III clinical trial of unit dose budesonide (UDB), the active ingredient found in AstraZeneca’s Pulmicort, did not meet its primary endpoints. The treatment was being investigated in children aged one to eight with mild asthma.

By terminating the licence agreement, AstraZeneca said it expects to record a charge of $44 million in its second quarter results. All the rights to UDB will now revert to MAP but the California-based company will suspend development of the product candidate.

MAP’s chief executive Timothy Nelson said that the firm is considering options for its pediatric asthma programme, including the development of a next-generation therapy with budesonide.

However the firm’s focus will now be on the experimental oral migraine drug Levadex (dihydroergotamine), which recently achieved all four primary endpoints in a Phase III study. MAP is looking for a partner for the migraine treatment.

Meantime, AstraZeneca is to start Phase IIb studies of AZD3480 in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, triggering a $10 million milestone payment to partner Targacept. It added fhat for Alzheimer's, development of AZD1446, another selective alpha 4 beta 2 neuronal nicotinic receptor agonist covered by the Targacept collaboration which is in Phase I, has been prioritised over further development of AZD3480 in that disease area.