) recently announced a strategic deal with Nordic Bioscience
Clinical Development A/S for its pipeline candidate, sprifermin
(recombinant human FGF-18). Sprifermin is being developed for
osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee.
Terms of the Deal
As per the agreement, Nordic Bioscience will receive service
fees, potential milestone and royalty payments for providing
clinical development services to Merck KGaA. Merck KGaA is
responsible for the development and commercialization of
sprifermin. Financial details were not provided.
The FORWARD Study
FORWARD is a multi-national phase IIb study scheduled to start
enrollment in the second half of 2013. The study will evaluate
sprifermin for inhibition of the progression of structural
damage, reduction of pain and improvement of physical function in
patients with OA of the knee.
Earlier, two phase I studies in moderate/severe OA of the knee
were completed on the candidate. Currently, sprifermin's efficacy
and safety is being evaluated in a phase II study in patients
with cartilage injury of the knee. Merck KGaA had originally
in-licensed this program from ZymoGenetics, a
, in 2004.
We are positive on Merck KGaA's decision to collaborate with
Nordic Bioscience. Nordic Bioscience's expertise in OA would be a
major boost for sprifermin's development.
As per information provided by the World Health Organization
(WHO), osteoarthritis of the knee affects more than 5% of the
people over 40 years in developed countries, or more than 30
Merck KGaA carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Currently,
Lannett Company, Inc.
WuXi Pharma Tech (Cayman) Inc.
) look more attractive with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).
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