Sexual health drug developer Starpharma has signed a licensing deal with a specialty women’s health pharmaceutical company that it says will be worth up to $142 million.

Starpharma (ASX:SPL) told investors this morning that ITF Pharma would sell and market its VivaGel BV, for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis in the United States.

It says that will lead to milestone payments of up to $142m depending on regulatory approval and sales figures.

The gel is currently undergoing approval processes by the US Food and Drug Administration.

The company is backing its success on the prevalence of bacterial vaginosis, which is one of the most common vaginal infections the world over. Starpharma says one in three US women will experience bacterial vaginosis.

Its shares rose 10 per cent to a high of $1.49 on the news.

Starpharma shares (ASX:SPL) over the past year.

“Upon launch, VivaGel BV will become ITF Pharma’s top priority Women’s Health product,” the company says.

“Under the licence, ITF Pharma have committed to a substantial investment in sales, marketing and reimbursement activities ahead of the US launch of VivaGel BV including significantly expanding its dedicated women’s health salesforce to 60 specialised representatives.”

Starpharma chief Dr Jackie Fairley added that ITF was a sensible fit.

“ITF Pharma is an organisation with a strong pedigree in Women’s Health, a high calibre commercial team and a great deal of sales and marketing experience in the category. We look forward to working with them to bring this highly anticipated and innovative product to women throughout the US,” she said.

“There are currently no approved products in the US for prevention of recurrent BV, and feedback from clinicians and patients indicate a strong interest in new BV therapies. Following approval and launch of VivaGel BV, these patients will finally have an effective, non-antibiotic BV treatment and an approved product for recurrent BV.”