Novartis unit Sandoz has entered an agreement to commercialise Japanese pharmaceutical company Shionogi ’s drug Rizmoic (naldemedine) in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands.

The agreement also provides Sandoz with the right of first refusal for some other European markets. Shionogi will carry out the manufacturing and development of medicine.

Rizmoic is an oral, peripherally acting mu-opioid receptor antagonist (PAMORA) for the treatment of opioid-induced constipation (OIC) in adults who previously received laxative.

Discovered and developed by Shionogi, the drug secured European Union (EU) marketing clearance in February this year.

A prevalent side-effect of opioid therapy, OIC does not respond adequately to traditional laxatives.

“This agreement represents a significant step forward for that strategy and for patients in Europe.”

Sandoz expects the deal to boost its anti-pain franchise and expand its portfolio of medicines intended for mitigating opioid use side-effects.

Financial details of the agreement have not been divulged.

Sandoz CEO Francesco Balestrieri said: “Our purpose at Sandoz is to pioneer access by focusing increasingly on differentiated, value-added therapeutics that can make a real difference when it comes to meeting unmet medical needs.

“This agreement represents a significant step forward for that strategy and for patients in Europe, reinforcing our long-term commitment to building a leading anti-pain franchise and complementing our portfolio dedicated to minimising the side-effects of opioid use.”

In April last year, Sandoz partnered with Pear Therapeutics to develop and commercialise digital therapeutics for substance and opioid use disorders.

The alliance led to the launch of a prescription digital therapeutic, called reSET-O, for opioid use disorder in January, following the US Food and Drug Administration clearance in December.

reSET-O is a 12-week cognitive behavioural therapy for conjunctive use with outpatient treatment. It is indicated for patients aged 18 years and above.