Shares in UK company SkyePharma were rising on the London Stock Exchange this morning after the firm revealed its lipid-lowerer Triglide (fenofibrate) has won US approval – triggering a $15 million dollar milestone payment from partner First Horizon Pharmaceutical Corp.

SkyePharma linked up with First Horizon in May last year in a $50 million dollar deal for what was then an undisclosed product [[18/05/04f]] - it was one of a cluster of agreements designed to pull the firm out of the quagmire following a dire set of 2003 results [[29/04/04h]]. In addition to the $50 million on the table in milestone fees, SkyePharma will receive 25% of First Horizon’s net sales of the product and has already been paid $5 million on signing the agreement. SkyePharma will also make a contribution of up to $5 million to First Horizon’s initial marketing expenses to establish the product.

The mystery drug is a novel formulation of the cholesterol-lowering agent fenofibrate, which means the patient can take the drug at any time, with or without food. The original form of fenofibrate was insoluble in water, meaning it had variable uptake from the stomach and must be taken with food. SkyePharma, which hopes this new offering will increase patient compliance, says it is also its first approval for a product using its solubilisation IDD(R)-P technology.

Michael Ashton, SkyePharma’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “This approval further reinforces our strategy to improve quality of earnings via increased royalties. We are confident that First Horizon’s 400-strong representative force with their focus on cardiovascular physicians and high-prescribing primary care practitioners will be able to successfully create a substantial franchise in this therapeutic area.”