Opko will acquire 10% stake in Tesaro and could receive another $121 million in milestones.

Newly established cancer biopharma company Tesaro has negotiated exclusive rights to develop and commercialize Opko Health’s Phase III-ready anti-emetic candidate rolapitant along with a related compound.

Under terms of the deal Opko will acquire a 10% equity holding in Tesaro and could be eligible for up-front and milestone payments of up to $121 million plus double-digit sales royalties. The firms will share future profits from commercialization of licensed products in Japan, and Opko will retain an option to market the products in Latin America.

Rolapitant is a selective neurokinin-1 (NK-1) receptor antagonist with an extended plasma half-life. Phase II studies have confirmed the drug improves the management of nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy-treated cancer patients as well as postoperative nausea and vomiting and chronic cough, Tesaro claims.

Boston, MA-based Tesaro was co-founded in March by former executives of MGI Pharma, an oncology and acute-care focused specialty biopharmaceutical company that was itself acquired by Eisai in 2008. Tesaro is exploiting the expertise of its founders to identify, acquire, develop, and commercialize promising products for the treatment and support of cancer patients. In May the firm announced securing $60 million in start-up funding from New Enterprise Associates and the Tesaro management team.

Opko acquired assets relating to Schering-Plough’s NK-1 receptor antagonist program in October 2009. The agreement included rolapitant and a follow-on compound in the same class.

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