Merck enters collaboration deals to help boost pipeline

Merck this week announced it would enter into two collaboration deals with smaller firms to bolster its product pipeline. Merck said it plans to develop new pain medicines with Neuromed Pharmaceuticals, including the biotech company’s NMED-160, currently in Phase II development. Under the terms of the agreement, Merck will make a $25 million initial cash payment to Neuromed to gain rights to NMED-160. Merck would pay Neuromed an additional $202 million if NMED-160 wins approval worldwide. Milestones could increase to approximately $450 million if a further indication for NMED-160 is developed and approved and a further compound is developed and approved for two indications. Neuromed would also receive royalties on worldwide sales of NMED-160 and any additional compounds developed under this agreement. Further financial terms were not disclosed. Neuromed will also receive research funding from Merck for two years as part of the collaborative research program, including the option to renew for an additional two years. Merck is responsible for all development costs and activities. Meanwhile, NicOx and Merck have signed a new agreement to collaborate on the development of new antihypertensive drugs using NicOx’s proprietary nitric oxide–donating technology. This agreement follows the successful completion of the companies’ research collaboration, which has generated promising results. Under the terms of the agreement, NicOx will receive an upfront payment of approximately $11.2 million and is eligible for potential further milestone payments of approximately $340.2 million. NicOx has the option to co-promote on a fee-for-detail basis products that result from the agreement to specialist physicians, such as cardiologists, in the US and certain major European countries. In addition, Merck will pay NicOx industry standard royalties on the sales of all products resulting from the collaboration.