Sanofi-Aventis has signed a deal with Aeterna Zentaris giving it US rights to the Canadian drugmaker’s investigational treatment for enlarged prostate, cetrorelix.

Under the terms of the deal, Sanofi will make an initial $30 million upfront payment to Aeterna for cetrorelix, a luteinising hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) antagonist. It is currently in Phase III trials for benign prostatic hyperplasia.

The Quebec City-based firm will also be entitled to receive up to $135 million upon achieving certain regulatory and commercial milestones. In addition, Aeterna may receive “escalating double-digit royalties” on future net sales of cetrorelix for BPH in the USA, where it has also retained co-promotion rights.

Although the agreement only covers the USA, the market there is a big one and the two firms noted that more than 20 million men in the country alone are affected by BPH, a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate. First efficacy results from the Phase III programme are expected during the third quarter, with a New Drug Application filing scheduled for 2010.

The deal forms part of Sanofi chief executive Chris Viehbacher’s strategy of supplementing the French drugmaker’s own pipeline with late-stage products. Another element of that strategy is small- to mid-sized acquisitions and once again Sanofi is being mentioned as a possible buyer for part of an Indian drugmaker.

Last month it was rumoured that Sanofi was in talks to acquire for Indian generics firm Piramal Healthcare. Now the Paris-headquartered group is allegedly in talks to buy a stake in the biotechnology division of Wockhardt, the Economic Times reports.

The newspaper claims that Sanofi and Pfizer are currently doing due diligence, and quotes an anonymous source as saying that a deal “would be more in the nature of a strategic business tie-up instead of a complete sell-out". The biotech business is worth around 2.5 billion rupees (or around $48 million) and Wockhardt would use any proceeds to repay $110 million of debt it raised through foreign currency convertible bonds that expire in September, the paper claimed.