Atrix Laboratories Inc. formed an agreement worth up to $30 million with Sosei Co. Ltd., giving Sosei rights to Atrix's Eligard in Japan.

Atrix receives an undisclosed up-front payment in the deal, research and development support and payments for specific clinical, regulatory and sales milestones. It also would receive royalty payments upon approval of Eligard by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

Sosei, for its part, will perform any preclinical and clinical studies required for approval and would shoulder the responsibility of regulatory filings. However, Atrix will manufacture Eligard for Sosei at its Fort Collins, Colo., facility and will earn manufacturing profits on each unit.

Eligard is a leuprolide acetate formulation developed using Atrix's Atrigel delivery system. The system combines a mixture of biodegradable polymers in a liquid carrier. The liquid is designed to be mixed with a drug and injected into the body, where it forms an implant that releases the drug over a predetermined time frame.

Atrix's 7.5-mg one-month and 22.5-mg three-month Eligard formulations are approved in the U.S. for the treatment of prostate cancer. The products are marketed in the U.S. by Sanofi-Synthelabo Inc., a division of Paris-based Sanofi-Synthelabo, in a potential $60 million deal. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 10, 2001, and Jan. 25, 2002.)

The company also has Atrisone topical gel, an acne product being developed with Fujisawa Pharmaceutical Co, of Osaka, Japan, although Atrix owns rights to other indications. Its marketed products include Atridox, a therapy for chronic adult periodontitis, as well as Atrisorb-D and FreeFlow products that use the Atrigel system to create a biodegradable barrier to enhance healing following gum surgery.

Atrix's stock (NASDAQ:ATRX) rose 9 cents Monday to close at $15.