Neurocrine Biosciences ( NBIX) has landed drug giant Pfizer ( PFE) as a partner for its experimental insomnia medicine Indiplon. Under terms of the deal, Pfizer will make an initial $100 million payment to the San Diego-based biopharmaceutical firm, and up to $300 million in future milestone payments. Pfizer gets rights to sell Indiplon outside the U.S. in exchange for undisclosed royalty payments to Neurocrine. Both companies will co-develop and co-market the drug in the U.S. Neurocrine said it hopes to submit Indiplon to the Food and Drug Administration by the end of 2003. Last month, Neurocrine released
positive results from the first late-stage study of Indiplon in a capsule formulation. Four additional phase III studies with an Indiplon capsule are being conducted, along with three phase III trials with a tablet form of the drug. The studies will be used eventually to support an approval application for multiple indications associated with insomnia. If approved, Indiplon will compete against prescription sleeping pills such as Ambien, which is marketed by Sanofi-Synthelabo ( SNY). As part of its partnering agreement, Pfizer said it will support the creation of a 200-member Neurocrine salesforce to sell Indiplon as well as Pfizer's antidepressant drug, Zoloft. After Indiplon launches in the U.S., Pfizer will also give Neurocrine loans totaling $175 million. Neurocrine shares were up 4% to $44.25 in Thursday trading. Pfizer shares were up 10 cents, to $30.38.