AstraZeneca, Merck Sign Licensing Agreement For Cancer Drug

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AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN) (LON:AZN), one of the leading pharmaceutical companies in the United Kingdom, agreed to pay $50 million to Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) to receive the license for an experimental cancer drug.

AstraZeneca, Merck Sign Licensing Agreement For Cancer Drug

AstraZeneca and Merck agreement terms

Under the terms of the agreement, Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) will also receive additional fees related to the development and regulatory milestone, sales-related payments, and tiered royalties.  AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN) (LON:AZN) will be responsible for all future clinical development, manufacturing and marketing of the medicine.

Iain D. Dukes, senior vice president and head of licensing and external scientific affairs at Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)said,  “We are pleased to enter this agreement with AstraZeneca to realise the potential of MK-1775 while we focus on advancing our later stage oncology programs, MK-3475 and vintafolide.” He also stressed the company’s commitment in advancing potentially meaningful therapeutic options for cancer patients.

Transaction period

According to AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN) (LON:AZN), the transaction depends on the expiration or termination of the waiting period under the Hart Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvement Act.

The experimental cancer drug, a small molecule inhibitor of WEEI kinase called MK-1775, is under evaluation in Phase II clinical studies combined with care therapies intended to treat patients afflicted with certain types of ovarian cancer.

AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN) (LON:AZN) explained that the WEE1 helps regulate cell division cycle. The WEE1 inhibitor MK-1775 is designed to divide certain tumor cells without going through the normal DNA processes and eventually lead to cell death. Pre-clinical evidences showed the combination of MK-1775 and DNA damage-inducing chemotherapy agents enhance anti-tumor properties as compared to chemotherapy alone.

Drug efficiency

According to Susan Galbraith, head of Oncology Innovative Medicines Unit at AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN) (LON:AZN),  “MK-1775 is a strong addition to AstraZeneca’s growing oncology pipeline, which already includes a number of inhibitors of the DNA damage response. The compound has demonstrated encouraging clinical efficacy data and we intend to study it in a range of cancer types where there is a high unmet medical need.”

In June, AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN) (LON:AZN) acquired Pearl Therapeutics, a respiratory drug specialist for $1.15 billion, in order to expand its business in emerging markets with LABA/LAMA drugs for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Approximately 210 million people suffer from COPD worldwide.

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