Forest Laboratories has signed a deal with Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo to co-

promote the latter’s new combination antihypertensive Azor in the USA, where it is currently under regulatory review.

Azor is a fixed-dose combination of two antihypertensives – the calcium channel blocker amlodipine (Pfizer’s Norvasc which recently went off- patent in the USA) and Daiichi Sankyo’s angiotensin receptor blocker Benicar (olmesartan), which Forest currently co-markets in the USA.

The Japanese firm filed a New Drug Application in November 2006 for Azor and expects to hear from the US Food and Drug Administration by the end of September.

Under the terms of the six-year deal, Forest will pay Daiichi Sankyo an upfront payment of $20 million and will receive an annual co-promotion sum based upon US product net sales. Daiichi Sankyo will bear all marketing and development expenses and both firms are to co-promote Azor during the first three years of the deal. This will be followed by a three-year period of residual payments for Forest during which it will no longer co-promote the product.

Joseph Pieroni, Daiichi Sankyo’s chief executive, said the agreement “provides us with important additional resources to support this product as we continue to increase the size of our own sales force". He added that the existing arrangement on Benicar, which began in 2001, “is nearing the end of its active co-promotion term. This relationship has been a very successful one for both companies and we are pleased to begin a new arrangement with our valued partner."

His counterpart at Forest, Howard Solomon, said his firm has “fostered a strong relationship” with Daiichi Sankyo and believes that the Azor agreement “will only further the strength and the success of the partnership."