SkyePharma has been celebrating the signing of a licensing deal with Japan’s Kyorin Pharmaceutical Co for the UK firm’s flagship asthma combination drug Flutiform

Under the terms of the deal, SkyePharma will receive signing, development and approval milestones “worth several millions of pounds plus a high mid-single digit royalty on sales”. Costs associated with obtaining approval for Flutiform (fluticasone and formoterol) in the Japanese market will largely be met by Kyorin, which is responsible for clinical trials and regulatory submissions, though SkyePharma acknowledged that “development is expected to take several years”.

Kyorin is already a major player in the Japanese asthma market, which was worth approximately $945 million in 2006 and grew at a compound annual growth rate of 9% between 2002 and 2006, according to figures from Datamonitor. Its sales force of 650 representatives visits up to 9,000 respiratory specialists in Japan and Kyorin currently co-promotes Merck & Co’s blockbuster Singulair (montelukast).

SkyePharma's chief executive Frank Condella said that the agreement with Kyorin “completes our licensing of Flutiform for the three major pharmaceutical markets”. The drug is partnered with Abbott Laboratories in the USA, while an alliance is in place with Mundipharma for Europe.

Mr Condella noted that the Kyorin deal “is the second positive announcement on Flutiform in as many weeks” as Mundipharma recently noted that it has completed a paediatric study with positive results on the combo. He added that “we expect to continue this momentum with more news flow in the coming weeks and months”, including data from the key Phase III clinical trials for the USA and Europe.