Sanofi-Aventis has signed a deal with Glenmark Pharmaceuticals giving it access to some of the Indian drugmaker’s investigational treatments for pain.

The drugs are vanilloid receptor (TRPV3) antagonist molecules for treating chronic pain and they include a first-in-class compound, called GRC 15300, which is currently in Phase I as a potential next-generation treatment for various conditions, including diabetic neuropathic pain and osteoarthritic pain.

Cashwise, the French drugmaker is making an upfront fee of $20 million and with milestone payments, Glenmark could pocket $325 million, plus royalties. In geographic terms, Sanofi will have exclusive marketing rights in North America, the European Union and Japan, subject to Glenmark's right to co-promote in the USA and five Eastern European countries. Sanofi also has have co-marketing rights in 10 additional countries including Brazil, Russia and China, while the Mumbai-headquartered firm retains exclusivity in India and other countries.

Marc Cluzel, head of R&D at Sanof, said GRC 15300 and its associated programme “brings an innovative approach” to the company’s pain portfolio “which we believe may have promise to address a significant gap in treating chronic pain”. He added that this is “our first partnership agreement in India in the pharmaceutical research area”.

Glenmark’s shares have leapt on the deal and chief executive Glenn Saldanha said the deal demonstrates his company’s “world class innovative R&D and validates Glenmark’s leadership in the Indian drug discovery arena.”

Strong in branded generics, Glenmark has eight molecules in various stages of clinical development and focuses on inflammation and metabolic disorders as well as pain. It has 12 manufacturing facilities in four countries and five R&D centres.

Meantime, Laurence Debroux, Sanofi’s chief strategic officer has decided to leave the group “to pursue another professional challenge” as of July 1. Her successor will be unveiled shortly and chief executive
Chris Viehbacher said that Ms Debroux had played “a key role that allowed Sanofi to realise significant acquisitions over the last 18 months”.