NicOx is reacquiring the rights to an experimental glaucoma drug from partner Pfizer, a move that has proved popular with investors this morning.

The French firm is buying back the development and commercialisation rights to PF-03187207 which has completed two Phase II studies in patients with primary open angle glaucoma and ocular hypertension. Those studies compared the treatment, a nitric oxide-donating prostaglandin analogue, with Pfizer’s own Xalatan (latanoprost), but failed to meet their primary endpoint and the New York-based giant decided not to take it into late-stage trials.

However NiCox believes in the compound as, it appears, does Pfizer. The latter’s head of out-licensing, David Rosen, said that the two companies “have enjoyed a very good relationship throughout this collaboration and we look forward to supporting NicOx during the transition period” before the rights are returned. He added that the agreement shows Pfizer’s commitment to allow partners to reacquire R&D programmes “that are no longer core to our strategy but could become important medicines”.

Gavin Spencer, vice president of business development at NicOx, said PF-03187207 “has good potential to be registered for glaucoma and ocular hypertension and could represent an important new treatment option”. The company is now looking at possible third-party partnerships to help advance the drug into Phase III.

Under the terms of the deal, Pfizer will receive two undisclosed milestone payments, dependent on future aoprovals and subsequent sales, plus royalties. NicOx also gets access to Xalatan data and regains the rights to a number of research- stage nitric oxide-donating compounds for the potential treatment of diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.

At 10.10 this morning (UK time), NicOx shares were up nearly 4% to 8.85 euros.