Merck, Dynavax ink $136M deal on hep B therapy

Merck has agreed to put up $31.5 million as a down payment for the worldwide rights to Dynavax Technologies' late-stage hepatitis B therapy. Merck will also cover the remaining development cost on the drug, pay royalties and fork out up to $105 million in milestones. On Tuesday Dynavax reported that Hepislav hit its Phase III endpoint; protecting older adults as well as healthcare workers.

Merck already markets a hep B therapy, but appeared to be attracted by an easier dosing schedule for Hepislav and its ability to work on the weakened immune systems of older people. Hepislav combines a segment of the hepatitis B virus and a DNA sequence that activates a toll-like receptor, triggering an early immune response. A spokesperson for Dynavax told The New York Times that the potential market for the drug--which could hit the market in 2010--at around $500 million. Berkeley, CA-based Dynavax also has partnerships with AstraZeneca and the NIH.

- see this release
- check out the report from Hemscott