Merck, Alnylam recalibrate development pact

Merck and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals have amended their drug discovery pact to allow each new opportunities to research new drug targets. Merck gains access to nine therapy targets before preclinical tests are run. And Alnylam gets quicker access to R&D support for three of the nine targets. Alnylam also stands to gain up to $120 million in milestones for the three drug targets and retains promotional rights in the U.S. Merck will develop and market the other six targets. These targets were identified through RNAi technology, inhibiting genes linked to disease. In addition, Merck said it returned a drug candidate to Alnylam targeted at age-related blindness following the FDA's approval of Genentech's Lucentis.

- here's the AP report on the new deal