Merck KGaA, in the process of paring down its pipeline, is walking away from a $625 million deal with Symphogen and handing back the company's lead asset, a targeted cancer treatment in midstage trials.
Pfizer is determined to be a major player in the fast-emerging field of immuno-oncology, and the pharma giant is paying handsomely to buy its way into an anti-PD-L1 program now underway at Merck KGaA. In a deal announced Monday Pfizer outlined plans to pay a whopping $850 million upfront and up to $2 billion in milestones for the right to co-develop and co-market MSB0010718C and any other IO drugs they put in the pipeline.
Welcome to the hall of shame, where blockbuster drug projections go to die. This list includes some drugs that clearly should never have wound up in Phase III to begin with, a few that were steered back to the clinic in a doomed attempt to mine something positive, and a couple of notable exceptions that may have helped advance the field by exploring the outer limits of new drug technology.
Merck KGaA has come up with its long-awaited buyout deal, acquiring the life sciences services outfit Sigma-Aldrich for $17 billion.
Fresh from writing off one of its top late-stage programs, Merck KGaA stepped up with a revised comeback plan today, detailing plans to invest about $500 million in a late-stage effort to develop new biosimilars while scouting for a major-league partner to come in on its PD-L1 immuno-oncology program. And the company pointed to its current lineup of three star players in the pipeline, including one that has already posted a clinical failure.
Sutro Biopharma has landed another marquee name for its list of development partners for antibody-drug conjugates. Merck KGaA, which has been struggling in the clinic for years, has signed on with the San Francisco-based biotech, offering a $300 million package of milestones along with some unspecified research support.
About a year ago Merck KGaA made the controversial decision to revive its late-stage program for the cancer vaccine Stimuvax, trying to start off fresh by renaming it tecemotide and pointing it toward a subpopulation of non-small cell lung cancer patients which appeared to respond in its very big failed Phase III. Today, the program is--once again--officially terminated.
Facing dwindling sales and a thin late-stage pipeline, Merck KGaA is looking to accelerate its efforts in allergy drug development, signing a deal with an Austrian biotech with hopes of quickly seeding new programs in the field.
Tecemotide, Merck KGaA's 9-lived cancer vaccine, has flunked another clinical trial, missing its main goal in a Japanese study and casting further doubts on the program's future.
Merck KGaA is talking up deals again, pointing to its healthy cash reserves and saying it can well afford a blockbuster buyout to bolster its pipeline. But that's been the story for nearly a year, so what's the German giant waiting on?