Astellas Pharma has announced an agreement with Ironwood Pharmaceuticals for the exclusive rights to develop and commercialise the promising irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) compound linaclotide in Asia.

Linaclotide is in Phase III clinical development in the US for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C) and chronic constipation.

As per the agreement Astellas will pay Ironwood $75m in upfront and precommercial milestones, including a $30m licensing fee, as well as escalating royalties based on sales.

Astellas will lead clinical development in Japan and be responsible for all activities and expenses relating to clinical development, regulatory approval and commercialisation.

Astellas’ president and chief executive officer Masafumi Nogimori said that this collaboration fits well with the company’s existing gastrointestinal franchise in Japan.

“I strongly believe that Astellas will maximise the potential product value of linaclotide with our proven capabilities,” Nogimori said.

The agreement will provide Astellas with exclusive rights to develop and commercialise the investigational compound in Japan, Indonesia, Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand.