US drug giant Wyeth has decided to close the curtains on its deal to co-market King Pharmaceutical’s flagship hypertension drug, Altace. The company is planning to return all rights to King in January next year, as part of a strategy to channel more resources into the launch of new products.

Under the terms of the restructured agreement, King will pay Wyeth an annual fee based on a percentage of Altace net sales, subject to annual payment limits. Wyeth will continue to pay its share of marketing expenses for the remainder of this year, and will pay King a $20 million milestone fee on attainment of a specified net sales threshold.

King sees the move as a positive development for the firm, pointing out that regaining full responsibility for Altace, which made sales of $554 million in 2005, cuts the amount of royalties payable to Wyeth, creating savings that can be re-routed into the drug’s promotion. “This also provides us with an opportunity to better leverage and strengthen our commercial operations infrastructure in the cardiovascular market,” remarked Brian Markison, King’s President and Chief Executive.