Merck KGaA, Pfizer and Broad Institute Collaborate


Merck KGaA (MKGAF) has been quite active on the collaboration front. Recent deals include an agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMY) to co-promote Glucophage for type II diabetes in China and another with BeiGene Co., Ltd. to co-develop and commercialize BeiGene-283.

Recently, Merck KGaA’s biopharmaceutical division, Merck Serono, entered into a research agreement with Pfizer Inc. (PFE) and the Broad Institute in Cambridge, MA. The alliance will focus on the genomic profiling of systemic lupus erythematosus (:SLE) and lupus nephritis (LN.TO) patients. Merck Serono and Pfizer will jointly fund this project.

The Broad Institute will investigate clinical samples obtained from SLE and LN patients, applying biochemical and next-generation sequencing technologies. The project aims to identify biomarkers to better define target patient populations for future therapies.

This agreement will bring together Broad Institute’s expertise in the field of systems immunology, Pfizer’s patient-centric and precision medicine-based approach to autoimmune disease research, and Merck Serono’s core focus on immunology.

Pfizer and Merck KGaA’s association dates back to 2002, when Merck Serono had entered into a co-promotion agreement with Pfizer for Rebif in the U.S. A lower court in 2011 ruled that the Pfizer agreement extends through 2015. Global sales of Rebif were €1,865 million in 2013.

The current collaboration will strengthen Merck KGaA’s largest division, Merck Serono, as it aims to further potential innovative treatments of lupus and lupus nephritis

Merck KGaA carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Investors looking for better-ranked stocks in the pharma sector may consider Lannett Co., Inc. (LCI), which carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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