Japan's Shionogi has licensed rights to Egalet Corp's hydrocodone opioid drug candidates in a deal that could be worth in the region of $425 million to the Danish firm.

The plan is to advance preclinical abuse-deterrent hydrocodone treatments using technology developed by Egaslet, which also has offices in the UK and the USA. Cashwise, the latter will receive a $10 million upfront fee and Shionogi has also agreed to purchase up to $15 million in stock in a private placement to close concurrently with Egalet’s recently-filed initial public offering.

Egalet is also eligible to receive development and regulatory milestones which may exceed $300 million and sales-based milestone payments of over $100 million, plus tiered royalties. Chief executive Bob Radie said the Shionogi collaboration "provides validation for our proprietary abuse-deterrent drug delivery platform and positions us to capitalise on our technology".

Hydrocodone is an opioid agonist used in the treatment of mild to moderate pain, available as a single agent or in combination with other analgesics.  Egalet notes that "abuse of prescription opioids has become a national epidemic in the USA" and there are no abuse-deterrent hydrocodone products currently on the market.

As for Shionogi, the deal expands its pain franchise, which includes Xodol (acetaminophen/hydrocodone). Just a week ago, the Osaka-headquartered firm signed a licensing deal with Mundipharma to sell Oxycontin Neo, a tamper-resistant version of oxycodone, and an oxycodone/naloxone combo in Japan.