GlaxoSmithKline has decided to pull out of a pact with the USA's Targacept which was looking at treatments for a variety of conditions, including smoking cessation, obesity and Parkinson’s disease.

In May, the UK drugs major will terminate a deal which began in July 2007 that focused on drugs that would target specified neuronal nicotinic receptors in five therapeutic areas - pain, smoking cessation, addiction, obesity and Parkinson’s disease. However, in February last year, GSK announced "significant strategic changes in the neurosciences area", which Targacept says "ultimately led to the decision to end the alliance".

Targacept will now have full rights to compounds discovered or advanced as part of the alliance, which at the time of signing could have been worth over $1.5 billion. The Winston-Salem group actually received $45 million, which included a $15 million equity investment.

Donald deBethizy, Targacept’s chief executive, noted that "while we are disappointed that we will be no longer working with our colleagues at GSK", the alliance "provided us with substantial funding at a key time...helping us stay at the forefront of NNR research". He added that "our programmes in Parkinson’s disease and related disorders and in smoking cessation remain of great interest to us".