Pfizer has signed a licensing agreement with Puma Biotechnology to develop and commercialise the drug giant's neratinib, which shows promise as a treatment for breast cancer.

Neratinib is an oral, multi-targeted, irreversible tyrosine kinase inhibitor  that in preclinical studies has been shown to target the ErbB1 (EGFR), ErbB2 (HER2) and ErbB4 (HER4) kinases. It is being studied in the neoadjuvant, adjuvant and advanced settings in HER2/ErbB2 positive breast cancer.

Under the terms of the deal, the financials for which have not been disclosed, Puma will assume sole responsibility for global development and commercialisation of neratinib. Pfizer will be entitled to receive payments upon Puma’s achievement of certain development milestones, as well as royalties.

Garry Nicholson, head of Pfizer Oncology, said the firm has been "actively prioritising" its cancer portfolio, "which includes deciding which compounds to develop internally and which compounds we believe may have better opportunities for development externally".

Meantime, Pfizer also announced that a trial of its blockbuster Lyrica (pregabalin) has been ended early after interim results suggested the drug was effective as a monotherapy for partial seizures in epilepsy patients.

The drugs giant says an independent data monitoring committee has completed an interim analysis and recommended that the study be stopped "based on positive findings for the primary efficacy endpoint". Pfizer spokesman MacKay Jimeson told PharmaTimes World News that "additional details will be made public when the double-blind code for the study has been appropriately released for general analyses to be conducted". Updated results will be posted on by April of 2012.

Lyrica, second-quarter sales of which increased 19% to $908 million, is currently approved to treat certain epileptic seizures, but only as an add-on to other anti-seizure drugs. It is also indicated for fibromyalgia and neuropathic pain.