Eli Lilly has linked up with India’s Glenmark Pharmaceuticals to get access to the latter’s GRC 6211, a potential next-generation treatment for various pain conditions, including osteoarthritis.

Lilly has signed a deal to acquire the rights to a portfolio of transient receptor potential vanilloid sub-family 1 (TRPV1) antagonist molecules, which includes GRC 6211. The compound is currently in Phase II development as a treatment for osteoarthritic pain and William Chin, Lilly’s vice president of discovery research and clinical investigation, said that TRPV1 “represents a promising pathway for pain research”. He added that GRC 6211 “has shown good potential in early-phase development and will be a strong addition to our own internal pipeline of potential pain molecules."

Under the terms of the agreement, Glenmark will receive an upfront fee of $45 million and could receive up to an additional $215 million in development and sales milestones for the initial indication, as well as royalties on sales if GRC 6211 is successfully commercialized. If other indications are successfully developed, the Indian drugmaker would be entitled to additional payments up to $90 million. Lilly is getting the marketing rights for North America, Europe and Japan, while Glenmark will retain them in all other countries although it does have the right to co- promote GRC 6211 in the USA.

Chief executive Glenn Saldanha said the Lilly deal further validates the view that “Indian companies have the ability to do world class innovative R&D and Glenmark's leadership in the Indian drug discovery arena”. Best-known for its generics, the Mumbai-based firm noted that it has 11 new molecules under development, two of which (apart from GRC 6211) are in Phase II.

Leading the pipeline is GRC 3886 (oglemilast) for the treatment of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The US Food and Drug Administration has just approved an additional Phase II study to be carried out by Glenmark’s Swiss unit for oglemilast, a phosphodiesterase-4 inhibitor which is licensed to Forest Laboratories in North America and to Teijin Pharma in Japan.

The other Phase II drug is GRC 8200, a dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitor

for type 2 diabetes which has been licensed by Germany’s Merck KGaA.