Biotie Therapies Corp of Finland has obtained an exclusive option to acquire US epilepsy specialist Neurelis.

The private company is based in San Diego, and its lead product, NRL-1, is an intranasal formulation of diazepam delivered via an already marketed nasal sprayer. It is being developed to help patients with epilepsy who require intermittent use of diazepam to manage bouts of acute and repetitive seizures.

Under the terms of the agreement, Biotie will pay $1.0 million to Neurelis for the option and will then issue new shares around $8.75 million, if it goes ahead with the acquisition. Biotie may exercise the option right up until the start of studies that will form the basis of a New Drug Application (but no later than December 3 next year).

Biotie added that its decision will be dependent on ongoing discussions with the FDA and further manufacturing and pre-clinical work which the Finnish firm will be conducting. Chief executive Timo Veromaa said that "our interest in Neurelis is in line with our ongoing portfolio review", adding that "NRL-1 is an exciting late-stage product for the control of epileptic seizures".

He added that it could also provide "a much-needed treatment option for those individuals who are not willing to use rectal administration, a particular issue in the USA".

Biotie is going through a good spell at the moment, given that partner Lundbeck recently launched Selincro (nalmefene) to cut alcoholic urges. It also recently started a mid-stage study of nepicastat for cocaine dependence.