ImageRomark Laboratories, a privately held biopharmaceutical company, and Chugai Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., a member of the Roche Group, today announced that the two companies have entered into an exclusive license agreement for the development and commercialization of nitazoxanide as a treatment of chronic hepatitis C in Japan.

Under the terms of the agreement, Chugai has paid an upfront payment to Romark, and will make additional payments based on the achievement of certain clinical and regulatory milestones. Romark will participate in profits from product sales in Japan through a supply agreement and royalties.

"Chugai is an excellent partner for us in Japan. They bring substantial expertise in the development and marketing of treatments for chronic hepatitis C exemplified by their experience with Pegasys(R) and Copegus(R)," said Jean-Francois Rossignol, M.D., Ph.D., Chairman and Chief Science Officer of Romark Laboratories, and inventor of the thiazolides. "This agreement is an important step in accelerating the worldwide development and commercialization of nitazoxanide for treating this disease."

Tatsuro Kosaka, Senior Vice President, Head of Lifecycle Management & Marketing Unit of Chugai Pharmaceutical said, "We believe nitazoxanide will be an important addition to current and future treatment regimens for chronic hepatitis C. This agreement demonstrates our commitment to providing innovative new treatments for chronic hepatitis C in Japan."