Ferring Pharmaceuticals has licensed the rights to Albireo of Sweden's elobixibat, a first-in-class compound for chronic idiopathic constipation and irritable bowel syndrome with constipation.

The agreement gives Ferring rights to market the product globally with the exception of Japan and a small number of Asian markets. In April this year, Albireo, created as a spin-out of AstraZeneca in 2008, licensed the drug in those territories to Ajinomoto Pharmaceuticals Co.

The Gothenburg-headquartered firm will get a "significant" upfront licensing fee, milestones and tiered double-digit royalties. No specific details are being disclosed but Switzerland-based Ferring says it is one of the biggest investments it has made for licensing rights to a product.

Elobixibat is due to enter Phase III trials for the CIC indication and Phase IIb for IBS-C shortly. The drug "perfectly complements our gastroenterology portfolio", said Ferring president Michel Pettigrew, which includes Pentasa (mesalazine) for inflammatory bowel disease and Picoprep (sodium picosulfate) for bowel cleansing.