Switzerland’s Nycomed has signed a deal with the US drug delivery firm EffRx which gives it licensing rights to the latter’s effervescent alendronate for the treatment of osteoporosis.

The drug, called EX101, is a once-weekly administration of an effervescent formulation of alendronate, a bisphosphonate which reduces the risk of vertebral and hip fractures. It is currently in late-stage clinical development, and submission for European approval is expected by end of 2009.

On the financial front, Novartis will make an upfront payment and EffRx could receive a total of $59 million “upon fulfilment of all milestones”. The Jupiter, Florida-based company will also get double-digit royalties and Nycomed will be responsible for conducting the necessary studies required for marketing approval for EX101.

Hakan Bjorklund, Nycomed’s chief executive, said that the agreement with EffRx “offers an excellent strategic fit” and strengthens the firm’s portfolio in osteoporosis. He added that “patients will benefit from the new pharmaceutical form that increases convenience thereby helping patients to stay on the medication".

That portfolio consists of Preotact (full-length parathyroid hormone [PTH 1-84]) for treatment of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women at high risk of fractures, and the company's broad Calcium D3 product range for the prevention of the condition.