Novartis has moved to seal an exclusive licence agreement with Swiss group Debiopharm for the development, manufacture and commercialisation of Debio 025 (alisporivir), which has shown a potent effect on the hepatitis C virus (HCV).

Debio 025 is in Phase IIb clinical development for the treatment of hepatitis C, and will become the commercial property of Novartis worldwide in all markets except for Japan.

Under the terms of the agreement, Novartis will pay Debiopharm upfront development and sales milestones as well as royalties subject to customary regulatory approvals.

Debiopharm Group president and founder Rolland-Yves Mauvernay said that according to the World Health Organization 170 million people in the world suffer from HCV.

“Sadly only 20% of those patients are treated adequately,” Mauvernay said.

Debio 025 is an oligopeptide that has some chemical features in common with cyclosporine A, but is devoid of its immunosuppressive pharmacological effects.