US-based Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Israeli drugmaker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries are rushing to beat US rivals Eli Lilly and Pfizer to market with a new type of pain drug.
Regeneron and Teva said today they are planning to co-develop and market Regeneron's experimental drug new type of pain drug if it succeeds in trials and is approved.
Teva will pay Regeneron $250m (£192m) and share the new injectable drug's ongoing research costs of about $1bn.
The move puts them on a collision course with Eli Lilly and Pfizer who are working towards a 2018 date to gain approval for similar medicine, tanezumab.
Eli Lilly and Pfizer are testing the drug under an $1.8bn deal reached in 2013.
Pharma firms are rushing to develop new drugs as many of the existing money-spinners go off patent, meaning generic versions can be made.
Regeneron's fasinumab drug blocks a protein involved in transmission of pain signals and could make it a non-addictive alternative to opioids.
Rob Koremans, chief executive of Global Specialty Medicines for Teva, said:
This is a significant transaction for Teva, and we look forward to our collaboration with Regeneron, a leader in the research and development of innovative biologics, which aligns with our overall corporate strategy. With our commercial footprint, we will be able to widely educate healthcare providers about this new treatment option when it becomes available.
It is being tested in late-stage trials for osteoarthritis pain and in mid-stage studies for chronic low back pain.
Previous attempts by Regeneron to develop a similar drug have been held back by safety concerns.