Danish drugmaker H Lundbeck has exercised an option to co-promote Merck & Co's migraine drug Maxalt (rizatriptan) in the USA.

The co-promotion option is part of an existing licensing, development and commercialisation agreement with Merck covering Lundbeck's first-in-class insomnia treatment gaboxadol, which is currently in Phase III trials [[18/08/04b]] [[11/02/04b]].

For Lundbeck the deal is important because it will give it time to build up a US salesforce in advance of the launch there of gaboxadol. In a statement, the company said it would start recruiting salespeople for the Maxalt co-promotion in 2006, and start co-promotion activities in 2007. Maxalt brought in $92 million dollars in sales in the third quarter of this year Meanwhile, gaboxadol is scheduled for filing towards the end of 2006 or in early 2007.

Along with Ebixa (memantine) for Alzheimer’s disease and recently launched Parkinson’s drug Agilect (rasagiline), Gaboxadol is an important new product for Lundbeck as it tries to reduce its reliance on its antidepressant franchise. The Danish firm has already had to weather the storm of a patent expiry on its once top-selling antidepressant Celexa (citalopram) and is already facing a challenge to its successor, Lexapro/Cipralex (escitalopram) [[18/08/05e]].