Novartis and Schering-Plough have restructured their respiratory collaboration which will see the Swiss major assume responsibility for a new once-daily combination drug to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma.

The drug in question is QMF149, a combination of Novartis's investigational beta2-agonist QAB149 (indacaterol) and S-P's Asmanex (mometasone). The product is being developed on S-P’s Twisthaler inhalation system.

In return, S-P is assuming exclusive rights to develop and commercialise a fixed-dose combination of Asmanex with Novartis’ Foradil (formoterol). Thomas Koestler, president of Schering-Plough Research Institute, noted that the combo is in Phase III development for the treatment of asthma and COPD and a filing with the US Food and Drug Administration for the asthma indication is planned in the next couple of months.

Trevor Mundel, head of development at Novartis Pharma, said that the changes are part of the firm’s bid “to build a portfolio of innovative respiratory treatments centered around indacaterol”. The companies have been working together since 2002 and was expanded in August 2006.