Italy's Newron Pharmaceuticals has received a number of unsolicited approaches from drugmakers which could lead to a licensing deal for its Parkinson's disease drug safinamide or "an M&A transaction".

It has been a turbulent month for Newron which saw its proposed merger with Finland's Biotie Therapies Corp called off by the latter. That was prompted by the decision of Merck Serono to return the full global rights to safinamide, which is in Phase III.

Merck believes "safinamide has a more limited market potential than originally anticipated". However other companies have approached Newron about the drug and the firm and its advisor JSB Partners have initiated a formal process "enabling potential parties to undertake a confidential review of the available information."

Luca Benatti, Newron’s chief executive, said "we are very pleased with the interest expressed by a significant number of companies since we regained ownership of safinamide". He added that the firm is confident of the the ongoing MOTION and SETTLE Phase III trials, saying that the registration dossier is largely complete, "which is of great value for Newron and any new partner".

Mr Benatti concluded by saying that the drug will be ready for submission to health authorities in key world markets by the end of 2012. "On this basis, we are confident of closing a deal for safinamide in the near future with the clear goal of rebuilding value for our shareholders.”