GSK has signed a $540m (€362m) licensing agreement with Nabi Biopharmaceuticals for the Phase III candidate nicotine vaccine, NicVAX.
Under the deal, the UK drug major has paid $40m upfront for an option to exclusively license the drug and develop follow-on nicotine vaccines based on intellectual property by Nabi. The US firm will receive a further $500m if GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) exercises its option as well as sales royalties if the product is commercially approved.
The potential market for an effective smoking cessation product is huge as, according to GSK, there are 1.2bn smokers worldwide and many current treatments are associated with relapse rates of 90 per cent after one year.
To date, study results show that NicVax stops nicotine reaching the brain by inducing the production of long-lasting antibodies that, Nabi believes, can prevent relapse long-term.