Merck scraps one migraine drug, pushes another

Spooked by signs of elevated liver enzyme levels, Merck announced today that it is dumping its development program for the acute migraine therapy MK-3207. But it touted promising results for a separate migraine drug now in late-stage tests.

The abandoned therapy--an oral calcitonin gene-related peptide receptor antagonist--was effective in clinical trials but didn't fit the safety profile needed for a late-stage study. "Merck believes that the blocking of CGRP receptors remains an exciting pathway to address the underlying pathophysiology of migraine," said David Michelson, M.D., vice president of clinical neurosciences, Merck Research Laboratories.  "We are continuing our efforts to offer patients a new treatment approach."

Telcagepant, or MK-0974, though, has proven superior to a placebo in Phase III and Merck plans to start regulatory talks later in the year. Merck had planned to seek an approval for telcagepant this year but had to put its application on hold after seeing evidence of elevated liver enzymes in some patients.

- read the Merck release
- read the Reuters story