* Lead compound completed Phase I studies
* To pay privately held TransTech $50 mln up front
NEW YORK, June 8 (Reuters) - Forest Laboratories Inc FRX.N has agreed to a licensing deal with privately held TransTech Pharma Inc for rights to potential diabetes medicines in early development.
Under the agreement announced on Tuesday, Forest will pay TransTech $50 million up front. TransTech Pharma could receive up to roughly $1.1 billion should the drugs reach various development and commercial milestones.
TransTech Pharma retains the rights to the Middle East and North Africa markets, while Forest receives exclusive rights to the rest of the worldwide market, the companies said.
The portfolio licensed by Forest consists of a lead compound, TTP399, which has completed Phase I studies and other compounds in Phase I and preclinical stages of development. They are from a class of glucose-lowering compounds known as liver-selective Glucokinase Activators (GKAs).
Forest is seeking to build up its product pipeline to help stem expected revenue losses when its big-selling Lexapro anti-depressant loses U.S. patent protection in 2012. (Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf, editing by Maureen Bavdek)