Business briefs: Merck and Pfizer; Valeant and Actavis; Bayer; Gilead

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Merck and Pfizer will partner on development and commercialization of ertugliflozin, an investigational SGLT2 inhibitor for type 2 diabetes. Trials are expected to begin this year. This marks Merck R&D chief Roger Perlmutter's first major pact since taking the job. Merck, through a subsidiary, and Pfizer will collaborate on ertugliflozin with combinations of metformin and Januvia. They'll share potential revenues and certain costs on a 60/40 percent basis, according to a release.

Bayer has bought contraceptive maker Conceptus in a bid for the rights to Essure, a permanent IUD. Essure will join Mirena and Skyla, Bayer's other IUD devices. Essure was approved by FDA in 2002. Bayer's other contraceptives Yasmin and Yaz saw setbacks after an ingredient in both treatments, drospireone, was flagged because it may increase the risk of blood clots. Amidst thousands of patient lawsuits, Bayer set aside €1.9 billion last year to cover litigation for those pills.

A merger between Valeant and Actavis was put on hold today, as negotiations fell through due to “disagreements on the proposed terms,” reported Reuters. Canada-based Valeant was reportedly seeking to purchase Actavis for more than $13 billion. Valeant currently holds $10.8 billion in debt, and recently purchased Obagi Medical Products.

Gilead's HIV blockbuster hopeful, Stribild, suffered a setback as FDA turned down two of its four active ingredients, elvitegravir and cobicistat, on a standalone basis due to “documentation and validation of certain quality testing procedures and methods.” Gilead does not expect this setback to affect Stribild's approval or use, and the drugmaker is moving quickly to address regulators' concerns. Analysts, according to FierceBiotech, expect the four-in-one HIV therapy to reach peak sales of $5 billion by 2016.

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