GlaxoSmithKline has bagged the rights to Basilea Pharmaceutica's eczema treatment Toctino as the Swiss firm elects to focus on anti-infectives and cancer.

Under the terms of the agreement, GSK's Stiefel unit is gaining exclusive worldwide rights to Toctino (alitretinoin) and is making an upfront payment of £146 million. Basilea is eligible for additional milestones of £30-£50 million and double-digit royalties dependent on getting approval for the drug in the USA.

Toctino is commercially available in 14 countries (and approved in an additional 15) for severe chronic hand eczema that is refractory to treatment with potent topical corticosteroids. In the USA, oral alitretinoin is in a Phase III trial.

Stiefel will assume responsibility for the development of the product in the USA and take on existing Toctino distribution agreements in Europe, Canada, Mexico, Israel and South Korea.

Basilea chief executive Anthony Man said that through the transaction, "we are immediately accessing the value of Toctino and we will be able to further focus our strategy on solving the massive health care threat of resistance in the areas of anti-infectives and oncology". Also, the cash "gives us the flexibility to selectively add products or product portfolios that address resistance to current therapies" in those areas.

Most of the proceeds will be used to support the regulatory filing of ceftobiprole for the treatment of pneumonia in the hospital in Europe this year and subsequently in the USA. The funds also mean Basilea will be able to complete its Phase III programme for the antifungal isavuconazole (partnered with Astellas) and advance Phase I compounds addressing resistant Gram-negative bacterial infections and drug resistance to current anti-tumour therapies.

The deal with Basilea comes a fortnight after Stiefel entered into an agreement with Canada's Welichem Biotech to acquire the latter's anti-inflammatory agent WBI-1001, in all territories outside of China, Taiwan, Macao and Hong Kong.

WBI-1001 is in Phase II for the treatment of psoriasis and atopic dermatitis and Welichem will receive an initial payment of C$35 million and undisclosed additional milestone payments. Stiefel has also received a conditional right to acquire the rights in the aforementioned territories for an additional C$15million.