AstraZeneca and Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: IRWD) announced today an agreement to co-develop and co-commercialize Ironwood’s linaclotide in China. Linaclotide is the first and only guanylate cyclase-C (GC-C) agonist approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, in August. In May, Ironwood filed a clinical trial application with the State Food and Drug Administration in China for a Phase III clinical trial to assess the efficacy and safety of linaclotide in adult patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C). IBS-C, which is characterized by symptoms of abdominal pain and constipation, is a chronic and prevalent functional gastrointestinal disorder in China and there are currently few treatment options for this condition. “China is one of the fastest growing prescription medicines markets in the world and linaclotide represents a valuable opportunity to meet the needs of local patients by providing an innovative new treatment option,” said Mark Mallon, Regional Vice-President for Asia Pacific and President, AstraZeneca China. “We are pleased to be partnering with Ironwood for linaclotide in China, which capitalizes on our leadership in the gastrointestinal sector in the emerging markets.” Peter Hecht, Ironwood’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “As we continue to advance our efforts to make linaclotide available to patients around the world, we are excited about this opportunity to collaborate in China with AstraZeneca, one of the world’s most successful companies in gastrointestinal medicine.” AstraZeneca and Ironwood are jointly responsible for strategic oversight of the development and commercialization of linaclotide in China. AstraZeneca will have primary responsibility for the local operational execution. Under the terms of the collaboration, AstraZeneca will make an upfront payment of $25 million to Ironwood and will share the net profits and losses associated with linaclotide in China, with AstraZeneca carrying 55 percent of each until a certain specified milestone is achieved, moving to a 50/50 split thereafter. Ironwood will also be eligible for $125 million in additional commercial milestone payments contingent on the achievement of certain sales targets.