AstraZeneca has chosen Daiichi Sankyo to help sell its novel constipation drug Movantik (naloxegol) in the US, as the firm gears up for its launch in April.

First-in-class Movantik was cleared in the US last September for the treatment of opioid-induced constipation in adults with chronic non-cancer pain, for which there is still significant unmet need. 

Globally, 40%-50% of patients taking opioids for long-term pain develop constipation and only around 40%-50% of these achieve desired outcomes with current options, i.e. laxatives, highlighting the need for new options.

Under the alliance, Daiichi will pay AZ $200 million up-front as well as subsequent sales-related payments of up to $625 million for joint commercialisation rights to the Movantik in the country.

AZ will be responsible for manufacturing, will book all sales and will make sales-related commission payments to Daiichi, while both companies have joint responsibility for commercial activities.

“Together, we will grow the potential of this important treatment, while we retain our significant interest in the long-term commercial success of Movantik in our largest market,” said AZ US president Paul Hudson, touching on the strategy behind the move.