UK drugmaker Vernalis has bought US rights to the long-acting antibiotic Moxatag, the first and only approved once-daily formulation of amoxicillin, further strengthening its foothold across the pond.

Moxatag is a penicillin-class antibacterial cleared in the US back in 2008 for the treatment of tonsillitis and/or pharyngitis secondary to Streptococcus pyogenes in adults and children aged 12 years and older.

The product offers patients a significant advantage in that treatment requires just one pill a day, while other amoxicillin-based tablets need to be taken two-three times daily for 10 days, depending on the severity of the infection. 

Noting that the drug hasn’t been actively promoted since 2010, Vernalis said it is planning a re-launch for next year, targeting an estimated market of two to three million prescriptions annually.

Under the deal, Vernalis has paid owner Pragma Pharmaceuticals an undisclosed up-front fee and will make a further payment on the successful manufacture of product for re-launch, probably by the end of the year. Pragma also stands to receive sales-based royalties and potential milestones.

The firm says Moxatag will be “a natural complement” to its recently launched 12-hour codeine-based prescription medication, Tuzistra XR, “as both products offer patients and physicians an extended-release alternative to existing treatments”.

Canaccord said the deal is a “smart move” for Vernalis. “It enables Vernalis to make more efficient use of its sales team, and having two products in the portfolio should make getting sales time to with a doctor simpler”, the broker noted.