Nycomed has been cheered by the news that US regulators have given the firm the go-ahead to sell its asthma treatment Alvesco.

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved Alvesco (ciclesonide), a new generation of inhaled corticosteroid for the maintenance treatment of asthma. Now the Zurich, Switzerland-based group needs a marketing partner to sell it there.

Before the FDA gave its backing, Alvesco had been approved in 44 markets and launched in 30 of them. However approval in the USA has proved difficult to achieve and this has probably put off potential partners.

The treatment only received an approvable letter from the FDA back in 2004 as the agency demanded additional data after a study threw up a small number of patients who developed lens opacity. At the time, the drug was being developed by Sanofi-Aventis and Altana Pharma, which was acquired by Nycomed in 2006 for 4.6 billion euros. Sanofi returned US marketing rights to the-then Denmark-based firm last May.

Privately-owned Nycomed noted that Alvesco will be patent-protected in the USA until 2017 and it is currently in active negotiations with possible marketing partners there. The approval should make the process much easier and provide a boost to revenues at a time when the firm is looking to soften the impact of patent expiries on the gastrointestinal drug pantoprazole, Nycomed’s top-selling drug.