UCB has signed a development and licensing pact with US group Immunomedics, giving the Belgian drugmaker exclusive rights to epratuzumab for all autoimmune disease indications.

Under the terms of the deal, which carries a potential value of $208 million, Immunomedics will receive an upfront cash payment of $38 million and could get up to $165 million in cash and equity investments in addition to sales based royalties.

Epratuzumab is Immunomedics leading drug candidate, and has been moved into the US Food and Drug Adminstration’s Fast Track program for the treatment of lupus, for which it is currently being assessed in two Phase III clinical trials. UCB will now assume all costs related to current and future clinical development of the agent for the condition.

Commenting on the deal, Cynthia Sullivan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Immunomedics, remarked: “Our business strategy of out-licensing compounds in late stage clinical development for markets with unmet medical needs fits exceedingly well with UCB's focus on securing leading positions in severe disease categories through its successful worldwide marketing and sales organization.”