Akzo Nobel’s healthcare unit, Organon, and Ligand Pharmaceuticals this morning said they would bring their US co-promotion deal for the Avinza (morphine sulphate) to an end. The move marks a rather turbulent partnership, which saw disagreement between the two parties with regard to co-promotion fees.

The agreement will be dissolved effective end-January, although Organon and Ligand have said they will “co-operate” in promoting Avinza, which was approved in the USA in 2002, during a transition period that will end on September 30, 2006. Organon stands to earn almost $38 million from the early termination of the agreement and will also receive just under $15 million to resolve the disagreement over co-promotion fees, as well as a further $10 million in milestone fees by mid-January next year should it have reached its required level of sales calls.

Organon says the move allows it to better focus on current and future products in its portfolio, while Ligand too seems satisfied with the outcome: “This new agreement will give us the flexibility to explore all strategic alternatives for Avinza and Ligand with various potential strategic partners in the coming months,” said David Robinson, Ligand chairman, president and chief executive.

Organon and Ligand originally inked the deal in 2003, saying they expected Avinza could secure the number two share of voice position in the $2.7 billion US market, calling it the “first true once-daily opioid for chronic, moderate-to-severe pain.” A combined salesforce of 800 representatives were tasked with selling the product.