UK drugmaker SkyePharma has bought back the marketing and distribution rights to its long-acting local anaesthetic, DepoBupivacaine (bupivacaine), in Europe and other markets excluding the USA, Canada and Japan, from Mundipharma.

The announcement marked the end of negotiations with development partner Mundipharma which, since the groups pairing in April last year, has paid SkyePharma $10 million primarily to fund Phase II clinical trials for the agent. Skyepharma has agreed to pay $5 million for DepoBupivacaine’s marketing and distribution rights as well as for data generated during the Phase II programme.

The move comes under SkyePharma's plans to divest its injectables unit. As Chief Executive, Frank Condella, explained: "DepoBupivacaine is the most important near-term product in the injectables pipeline and therefore a key component of the value of this business unit. During our negotiations to divest this unit we have identified the desirability of clarifying the commercial rights to this key product and we are gratified that we are now in a position to offer unrestricted global rights to DepoBupivacaine (outside Japan) to parties interested in acquiring the injectables unit."

Late last year SkyePharma entered into an exclusive marketing and distribution agreement with Maruho Company Limited for Japan, where Maruho is now funding its development for approval by the Japanese regulatory agency.