In what it calls a "new paradigm for global alliances," Eli Lilly & Co. has signed a drug development agreement with Nicholas Piramal India Ltd. under which the Indian firm will design and execute a clinical development program spanning nonclinical studies and human trials through Phase III for a group of Lilly drug candidates. Under the agreement, NPIL will receive milestone payments of up to $100 million, plus royalties on sales upon a successful launch of the first compound. Lilly will make unspecified payments if it elects to take over trials of any candidate in Phase III; it will not make up-front payments to NPIL. "We believe NPIL has the strategic interest and capabilities to advance these Lilly molecules through early clinical development, and we are excited to explore this innovative drug development model with them," says Robert W. Armstrong, Lilly's vice president of global external R&D. Lilly previously contracted with another Indian firm, Suven Life Sciences, for development of a central nervous system drug candidate.