AstraZeneca has agreed to sublicense its global rights to Movantik (naloxegol) to RedHill Biopharma.

The British-Swedish pharma giant says that it will continue to manufacture and supply the chronic non-cancer pain drug to RedHill during a transition period. In 2015, AstraZeneca entered into a co-commercialisation agreement with Daiichi Sankyo, Inc. for Movantik in the US, which will be transferred to RedHill.

Under the terms of the agreement, RedHill has agreed to make and upfront payment of $52.5m to AstraZeneca on closing and a further non-contingent payment of $15m in 2021.

The divestment is expected to complete in the first quarter of 2020, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory clearances.

Ruud Dobber, executive vice president, BioPharmaceuticals Business Unit, said that the divestment “supports our strategy to realise value from medicines in our portfolio that are mature or outside our current scope to enable reinvestment in our main therapy areas. Movantik is an important established medicine and the divestment to RedHill will ensure its continued availability for patients.”

Movantik was initially licensed from Nektar Therapeutics in 2009, having been developed using Nektar’s oral small-molecule polymer conjugate technology.

The oral once-a-day treatment belongs to a class of drugs called peripherally-acting mu-opioid receptor antagonists, which are used to decrease the constipating effects of opioids. The drug’s safety and effectiveness were established in two trials of 1,352 participants who had taken opioids for at least four weeks for non-cancer related pain and had opioid-induced constipation.