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Merck & Co Inc. (MRK)

  • Mon, Jan. 26, 10:29 AM
    • The European Medicines Agency's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) adopts a positive opinion recommending approval for Merck's (MRK +0.2%) Sivextro (tedizolid phosphate) for the treatment of acute bacterial skin and skin structure infections (ABSSSI). Merck acquired the rights to Sivextro via its acquisition of Cubist Pharmaceuticals.
    • A final decision from the European Commission usually takes ~60 days.
    • The FDA approved Sivextro in June.
    • Previously: FDA give thumbs up to Cubist antibiotic (June 21, 2014)
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  • Wed, Jan. 21, 11:41 AM
    • Merck (MRKplans to withdraw its hepatitis C medicine, Victrelis (boceprevir), from the U.S. market by the end of this year due to declining demand in the wake of the Gilead Sciences (GILD +1.1%) juggernaut. Victrelis will remain available internationally.
    • Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX +0.4%) pulled its offering, Incivek (telaprevir) in August for the same reason and exited the hepatitis arena.
    • Merck is not giving up yet. It plans to file an NDA by mid-year for an all-oral ribavirin-free hep C regimen, grazoprevir/elbasvir.
  • Wed, Jan. 21, 8:53 AM
    • Merck (NYSE:MRK) completes its acquisition of Cubist Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:CBST) for $102 per share. Over 58M CBST shares were tendered as of yesterday's expiration date representing 75.7% of Cubist's common stock.
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  • Mon, Jan. 19, 5:11 PM
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  • Fri, Jan. 16, 8:54 AM
    • A consortia of global research institutions and non-government organizations has been formed to work with Janssen Pharmaceuticals (NYSE:JNJ) to accelerate the development of its Ebola vaccine. The Innovative Medicines Initiative intends to grant more than €100M to fund the development work. The project is delineated into three areas or topics:
    • Topic 1: Vaccine development, Phases 1, 2 and 3. Consortia members: Janssen, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Oxford University, Insititut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale (INSERM), La Centre Muraz.
    • Topic 2: Manufacturing capability: Janssen, Bavarian Nordic A/S, Vibalogics.
    • Topic 3: Deployment and compliance of vaccination regimens: Janssen, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Grameen Foundation, World Vision of Ireland.
    • A recently-started Phase 1 trial is being led by the Oxford Vaccine Group, part of the University of Oxford Department of Paediatrics. Janssen, in partnership with Bavarian Nordic A/S (OTCPK:BVNRY), has produced more than 400K regimens of the prime-boost vaccine for use in large-scale trials that could begin as early as April.
    • Ebola vaccine-related tickers: (NASDAQ:NLNK) (NYSE:MRK) (NYSE:GSK)
  • Wed, Jan. 14, 9:13 AM
    • Express Scripts' (NASDAQ:ESRX) success in containing the prices of new HCV therapies by pitting Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD) against AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV) is sending shock waves through the biotech/pharma industry. Most of the big players slumped yesterday as investors fear that ESRX's tactics will spread to other high cost areas like cancer and cholesterol.
    • At JPM15 yesterday, CEO George Paz said that the new cholesterol-lowering post-statin PCSK9 inhibitors will be the next big opportunity to pit drug firms against each other in order to drive costs down. FDA clearance of the first two therapies, one from Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) and the other from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:REGN) (NYSE:SNY), is expected to occur at about the same time.
    • The prices of emerging cancer therapies will also be in payers' crosshairs. Amgen's Blincyto, for example, costs $178,000 per standard course of treatment while Merck's (NYSE:MRK) Keytruda is close behind at $150,000.
  • Tue, Jan. 13, 8:44 AM
    • Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) and Merck (NYSE:MRK) establish a clinical trial collaboration through a subsidiary to evaluate the safety, tolerability and efficacy of Merck's PD-1 inhibitor Keytruda (pembrolizumab) in combination with Lilly's compounds in multiple studies.
    • Merck will conduct a Phase 2 trial assessing the combination of pembrolizumab and pemetrexed as a first-line treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
    • Lilly will conduct a multiple-arm Phase 1/2 trial assessing the combination of pembrolizumab and ramucirumab in multiple tumors and another Phase 1/2 assessing pembrolizumab and necitumumab in NSCLC.
    • Additional details about the partnership are undisclosed.
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  • Mon, Jan. 12, 7:13 AM
    • Acknowledging that it needs to speed up its development efforts, Merck (NYSE:MRK) plans to file for another indication for Keytruda (pembrolizumab) by midyear, for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer, the most common form of the disease.
    • It also plans to submit its NDA for grazoprevir/elbasvir for the treatment of HCV infection in H1.
    • Merck Research Laboratories President Roger Perlmutter says, "The tempo has changed. What we are doing is focusing our efforts more profoundly, increasing the speed at which we complete things."
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  • Sun, Jan. 11, 10:29 PM
    • Based on an assessment by the independent Data Monitoring Committee, Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY) stops its Phase 3 trial, CheckMate-017, evaluating Opdivo (nivolumab) versus docetaxel in previously treated patients with advanced squamous cell non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The committee concluded that the study met its primary endpoint of demonstrating superior overall survival (OS) compared to docetaxel. This is the first time a PD-1 inhibitor has shown a survival advantage in lung cancer.
    • Eligible patients will be informed of the opportunity to continue or start treatment with Opdivo in an open-label extension.
    • The company will complete a full analysis of the data and work with investigators on the future presentation and publication of the results.
  • Thu, Jan. 8, 7:55 PM
    • The FDA approves Daiichi-Sankyo's (OTCPK:DSKYF) (OTCPK:DSNKY) Savaysa (edoxaban tablets) to reduce the risk of stroke and dangerous blood clots (systemic embolism) in patients with atrial fibrillation that is not caused by a heart valve problem.
    • Edoxaban is an anticoagulant that inhibits factor Xa. It was approved in Japan in 2011 for the prevention of venous thromboembolism in patients undergoing total knee replacement surgery, total hip replacement surgery and hip fracture surgery.
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  • Mon, Jan. 5, 9:24 AM
    • Merck (NYSE:MRK) will report Q4 and full-year results on February 4 before the open. The conference call will begin at 8:00 am ET.
    • Consensus views for Q4 and 2014 are EPS of $0.86 and $3.49 on revenues of $10.6B and $42.4B, respectively.
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  • Fri, Jan. 2, 8:12 AM
    • Under the terms of the Contingent Value Rights (CVR) Agreement, Cubist Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:CBST) purchases all of the 50,785,558 issued and outstanding CVRs related to its acquisition of Optimer Pharmaceuticals in July 2013 under the Failure Purchase clause. The company will pay $0.059225 per CVR which is 115% of the volume-weighted average price as calculated under the agreement.
    • The CVRs had a maximum potential payout of $5 if certain sales of Dificid (fidaxomicin) were achieved. Optimer shareholders received $10.75 per share in cash plus one CVR in the transaction.
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  • Dec. 22, 2014, 8:44 AM
    • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) awards a $30M contract to NewLink Genetics (NASDAQ:NLNK) subsidiary BioProtection Systems as the prime contractor to support the development and manufacturing of its rVSV-EBOV (Ebola) vaccine candidate, including a new 330-subject Phase 1b study.
    • The investigational vaccine was initially developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada. It is now being advanced by NewLink and Merck (NYSE:MRK).
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  • Dec. 19, 2014, 6:35 PM
    • The FDA has approved the use of Cubist's (NASDAQ:CBST) Zerbaxa (ceftolozane/tazobactam) for "the treatment of adults with complicated urinary tract infections (cUTI) and complicated intra-abdominal infections (cIAI) caused by designated susceptible Gram-negative bacteria."
    • Cubist adds the FDA's decision was "supported by positive data from two pivotal Phase 3 clinical trials - one in patients with cUTI and the other in patients with cIAI."
    • Cubist, still set to be acquired by Merck (NYSE:MRK) for $9.5B, is up 2% AH.
    • Previous: PDUFA date approaches for Zerbaxa
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  • Dec. 18, 2014, 12:29 PM
    • The FDA's PDUFA date for its Fast Track/Priority Review of Cubist Pharmaceuticals' (CBST) New Drug Application (NDA) for its combination drug, ceftolozane/tazobactam, for the treatment of complicated urinary tract infections is December 21. Since this is Sunday, the agency may issue its decision tomorrow.
    • Ceftolozane/tazobactam is designated a Qualified Infectious Disease Product (QIDP). If approved, it will have a five-year period of market exclusivity.
    • Previously: Cubist NDA gets Priority Review (June 20, 2014)
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  • Dec. 18, 2014, 8:31 AM
    • Chinese authorities approve the start of clinical trials for an experimental Ebola vaccine developed by the Academy of Military Medical Sciences and Chinese biotech outfit Tianjin CanSino Biotechnology. The trials are supposedly going to commence this month. No other details are available.
    • Glaxo (NYSE:GSK) and Merck (NYSE:MRK) remain the front runners.
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Company Description
Merck & Co Inc is a health care company that delivers health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, animal health, and consumer care products.