Merck & Co. Inc.
) recently announced the in-licensing of Xenon Pharmaceuticals
Inc.'s small molecule compounds for a novel target to treat
Merck and Xenon's agreement dates back to 2009 when the
companies entered into a strategic alliance to discover and
develop novel small molecule candidates for the potential
treatment of cardiovascular disease. Merck was given an option to
license novel discoveries from this collaboration.
As per the agreement, Xenon is eligible to receive payments of
up to $86.5 million on the achievement of research, development
and regulatory milestones. Additionally, Xenon will receive
royalties on sales of products commercialized as a result of the
Currently marketed drugs for the treatment of cardiovascular
disease in Merck's portfolio are Zetia and Vytorin.
Global sales of Zetia and Vytorin in 2012 were $2.6 billion and
$1.7 billion, respectively.
Merck's cardiovascular pipeline includes candidates like
MK-0859, anacetrapib, a cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP)
inhibitor which is being developed for cholesterol
Merck has started a large, event-driven cardiovascular
clinical study REVEAL (Randomized EValuation of the Effects of
Anacetrapib Through Lipid-modification), which enrolled patients
with preexisting vascular disease which is expected to complete
in 2017. Merck expects to file a New Drug Application (NDA) with
the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after 2015.
Merckcarries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Currently, companies like
Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Cleveland BioLabs, Inc.
Transcept Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
) look more attractive in the pharma space. All three stocks
carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).
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