Deal will help to bolster Novartis’s pipeline for neurological disorder treatments

The Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis is to buy the rights for a promising multiple sclerosis (MS) treatment from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in a $1 billion (£655 million) deal.

Currently in Phase II trials, the injectable drug ofatumumab, promoted under the brand name Arzerra, is an antibody that attacks specific proteins in the immune system and has been used in the past to treat lymphocytic leukaemia. MS treatment trials for the drug started back in November 2011, but GSK hope to complete all Phase II trials by the end of 2015.

Novartis has agreed to pay GSK $300 million up front for ofatumumab, with another $200 million only being handed over when Phase III trials begin. $534 million will be given incrementally to GSK as the drug is developed and they will also receive up to 12% of the drug’s future sales.