Days after announcing it had found a new US partner for VR315, a drug for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma that is widely thought to be a generic version of GlaxoSmithKline’s blockbuster Advair, the UK's Vectura Group has extended a partnership with Novartis unit Sandoz for the combination therapy.

This deal covers the development and marketing of VR315 in the rest of world, excluding the USA (where Vectura holds the rights) and those countries included in the existing European license granted to Sandoz in March 2006. Under the terms of the latest agreement, the Chippenham-based group  is eligible for milestones and advance pre-launch royalties worth up to 8 million euros, 2.5 million euros of which are expected to be received by the end of September 2011.

Vectura will also receive a royalty on net sales and a margin on the commercial manufacture and supply of the dry powder inhaler device used to deliver VR315 for the rest of the world. Sandoz will be solely responsible for any development work required and for obtaining marketing authorisations throughout the latter territory, which includes Japan, Canada, South America and Australia.

Chris Blackwell, Vectura's chief executive, said VR315 has "a large market opportunity in these rapidly expanding territories, where patient access to good, affordable treatments for asthma and COPD is of great importance". He added that the agreement "further endorses Vectura’s respiratory expertise and GyroHaler technology".

Last week, Vectura signed a deal with "a US division of an undisclosed leading international pharmaceutical company" for VR315 across the Atlantic. That deal could be worth up to $45 million.