France’s Servier is teaming up with Galapagos of Belgium to develop new therapies in osteoarthritis.

Under the terms of the agreement, Galapagos will receive research access fees of 7 million euros from the privately-held Neuilly-sur-Seine-based firm. It is also eligible to receive discovery, development, regulatory and other milestone payments that could reach 290 million euros, plus royalties upon products sold outside the USA, where Galapagos retains commercialisation rights.

The Mechelen-based group will be responsible for the discovery and development of new small molecule candidates against novel OA drug targets, some of which are in the advanced stages of drug discovery. Servier will have an exclusive option to license each programme after the completion of Phase I trials by Galapagos and pay for further clinical development, registration and commercialisation.

Emmanuel Canet, head of R&D at the French firm, said the alliance “is in line with Servier's commitment to develop disease- modifying drugs for sufferers of uncured diseases, such as OA.” The latter is a debilitating disease that affects 12% of the world population, leading to severe and costly handicaps”.

Galapagos chief executive Otto van de Stolpe said the deal is “our eighth risk-sharing alliance with a pharmaceutical company”. He added that “retaining the US rights to any products from this alliance is important to Galapagos, especially as the US has a large need for disease-modifying OA therapies”.