The deal gives FMC Biopolymer exclusive woldwide rights to BioProgress' cellulose-based NROBE technology for encapsulating powdered drugs, as well as the machines, technologies and materials developed to carry out the coating process. FMC will carry out all the marketing for the system under the terms of the agreement, which runs until 2003.
The UK firm said in a statement that the value of the deal was not completely quantifiable, as the revenues will to some extent depend on the extent to which FMC's customers use the NROBE technology.
However, FMC has provided contractual assurances that a minimum number of machines will be purchased from BioProgress within the first six years following commercialisation, with a total value exceeding $80 million. In addition, FMC has contracted to purchase from BioProgress a minimum of 50 per cent of its global NROBE film requirement for the next three years. The UK company will also receive royalties on film made by FMC.
In effect, FMC is acquiring a full-fledged encapsulation technology, which has already started to attract customers. Last year, BioProgress shipped the first pilot scale NROBE system to Farmasierra in Madrid, Spain.
NROBE is a low cost process that enables tablets to be wrapped in soluble, cellulose-based films that can be modified to meet specific dissolution and stability requirements. They can also be produced in virtually any colour or two-colour combination and pre-printed with brand names. There are also preliminary suggestions that the coating can have an impacton the performance of a product, improving the oral delivery of certain drugs.
Shares in BioProgess, which floated on the UK stock exchange last May, were up 9 per cent to 85 pence in mid-morning trading today, just below a life-time high of 85.5 pence.