A few months after Merck KGaA said it will give back the rights to safinamide, Italy's Newron Pharmaceuticals has signed up Japan's Meiji Seika Pharma Co as a new partner for the investigational Parkinson's disease drug.

Specifically, Meiji Seika has signed a deal covering the R&D, manufacturing and marketing of safinamide in Japan and key Asian territories. The Tokyo-based group is paying an upfront fee of 5 million euros, though other financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed.

The transaction will become effective upon the return of the global rights to safinamide from Merck, due by April 17. In October last year, the German firm pulled out of its pact with Newron after a pipeline review, claiming "safinamide has a more limited market potential than originally anticipated".

Newron clearly still has faith in the drug, adding that it is in ongoing talks for the licensing of rights in other territories.