GlaxoSmithKline has exercised an option to license a third respiratory programme from Theravance in a move that could net the privately-held US company up to $252 million dollars in upfront and milestone payments.

The two firms first linked up back in 2003 in the field of respiratory disease [[07/01/03e]], and the UK drug giant has now licensed its inhaled bifunctional, muscarinic antagonist/beta2 agonist programme, which is under investigation in the possible treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma. GSK will fund all future development, manufacturing and commercialisation activities for product candidates in this programme. The lead compound – TD-5959 – is currently in the pre-clinical phase.

Dr Pat Humphrey, executive vice president of research at Theravance, said, “We believe this type of bifunctional molecule could serve as a basis for improved ‘triple therapy’ through co-formulation with another inhaled respiratory compound into a single product that could potentially deliver three complementary therapeutic effects for patients with respiratory disease.”

GSK has decided not to exercise an option to license a short-acting sedative hypnotic programme, and Theravance is now free to pursue its development either alone or with another partner.