Merck has agreed to pay $60 million to Pfizer for rights to co-develop and commercialize an experimental type 2 diabetes drug for both stand-alone and combination use.
Pfizer is eligible for payouts tied to clinical, regulatory, and commercial milestones in the partnership and the companies say that they will split potential revenues and some costs. The partners plan to offer ertugliflozin both alone and in combination with metformin and Januvia, which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2006.
“We believe ertugliflozin has the potential to complement our strong portfolio of investigational and marketed products, and we look forward to collaborating with Pfizer on its development,” says Nancy Thornberry, senior vice president and Diabetes and Endocrinology franchise head, Merck Research Laboratories.
Merck’s Januvia and Janumet diabetes treatments earn billions annually and patents covering the franchise don’t expire until 2022. But Johnson & Johnson has created new competition with Invokana, a diabetes drug that gained FDA approval in March and is in the same class as ertugliflozin. Bristol-Myers Squibb and AstraZeneca have also sought approval of a drug in the same class—oral sodium glucose cotransporter, or SGLT2, inhibitors. That drug, Forxiga, was rejected by the FDA over safety concerns but has received approval in Europe.
Pfizer and Merck say that ertugliflozin is “phase 3 ready” and expect to move the drug into late-stage trials toward the end of 2013.
“Through this collaboration, we believe we can build on Merck’s leadership position in diabetes care,” says John Young, president and general manager for Pfizer’s Primary Care unit.
May 03, 2013