Flamel Technologies SA said that Novo Nordisk A/S terminated its license agreement with Flamel regarding the development of Basulin, a long-acting form of insulin. Simultaneously, Flamel said it entered an agreement licensing its Micropump control release technology to Laboratoires Servier.

The deal with Servier gives Flamel a $3 million up-front payment and will mean “at least as much money as we had expected to get from Novo,” Stephen Willard, chief financial officer for Flamel, told BioWorld Today.

Novo Nordisk, of Bagsvaerd, Denmark, entered its agreement with Flamel in December 1999, providing Flamel with $5 million in up-front payments in a deal that could have totaled as much as $42 million, including all milestones. (See BioWorld Today, Dec. 9, 1999.)

Since then, Flamel, of Lyon, France, received $10 million from Novo, Willard said. Novo invested about $2 million to $3 million of development money last year in the deal. But with no development costs expected for that program in 2002, Novo’s funding won’t be missed, Willard said.

“The combination is that we will not have a financial hit from the Novo deal, and we got an additional $3 million in our cash account [from Servier],” Willard said.

Laboratoires Servier, also located in France, has sales of EUR1.8 billion (US$1.6 billion), with a portfolio of about 30 drugs and activities in 140 countries, Flamel said.

The deal involves one of Servier’s “most important products,” according to a prepared release, which is in a class of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. Flamel will apply its Micropump delivery technology a technology for controlled release and taste-masking in orally administered small-molecule drugs to Servier’s product. Flamel said in a prepared statement that while it has applied the technology to antibiotics, antivirals and antidiabetics, the work with ACE inhibitors will be a new application.

The Novo deal also involved Flamel’s Medusa nano-encapsulation technology to deliver Basulin. The Medusa technology is a depot-like system for the controlled release of injected therapeutic proteins.

Basulin is Flamel’s insulin formulation, of which the company has developed two variations: an old and a new. The old formulation was used with Novo, Willard said, and it successfully completed Phase I trials. The new formulation will be taken to proof-of-concept by Flamel. And while Flamel has developed the new Basulin, Willard said there were no technical problems with the old formulation and partners will have the option of choosing either.

“We are interested in another major pharmaceutical company that is either currently actively involved in the insulin market or is prepared to go into the insulin market in a very big way,” Willard said.

Those conversations are being initiated now, he said, noting that Flamel has not ruled out the possibility of going it alone.

“Right now our intention is to demonstrate some recent improvements on our own account,” Willard said. “Before we make any decision to do full-scale clinical work, we would want to explore a partnership.”

Flamel’s stock (NASDAQ:FLML) fell 47 cents, or about 18.7 percent, on Friday to close at $204.