AstraZeneca has entered into a licence agreement with the USA’s Cubist Pharmaceuticals to develop and commercialise the latter’s novel injectable antibiotic Cubicin (daptomycin) in China.

Under the terms of the deal, AstraZeneca will pay Cubist $10.25 million cash upfront plus an undisclosed price for the supply of Cubicin vials. Cubist will also receive further payments on reaching regulatory and sales milestones.

As well as China, the agreement covers certain other countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa not already covered by existing deals, although it does not include Japan, which is yet to be partnered. In Europe, Cubist already has a deal in place with Chiron, which is now part of Novartis.

Cubicin - the first in a new class of lipopeptide antibiotics to reach the market - is the only once-daily bactericidal antibiotic cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat complicated skin and skin structure infections caused by susceptible strains of certain Gram-positive micro organisms, such as Staphylococcus aureus. The drug, which also has FDA approval for the treatment of certain blood stream infections, brought in $113.5 million in sales last year.

Cubist chief executive Mike Bonney said that China is a very important growth market for pharmaceuticals, in particular antibiotics such as Cubicin. “We are looking forward to our alliance with AstraZeneca, which has a long-term presence and a rich history of success in China,” he added.