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Merck KGaA, Ono Pharma Collaborate

Zacks Equity Research

In a bid to strengthen its multiple sclerosis and cancer franchises, Merck KGaA (Other OTC: MKGAY.PK - News) entered into a couple of agreements with Japanese pharma company, Ono Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.

According to the first agreement, Merck KGaA will have worldwide (excluding Japan, Korea and Taiwan) license rights for the development and commercialization of ONO-4641, which is currently in mid-stage development for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. For this agreement, Ono Pharma will receive 1.5 billion Japanese Yen (about €14 million) as an upfront payment and is also eligible to receive additional payments on the achievement of certain development, regulatory and commercial milestones for ONO-4641.

The second license agreement provides Ono Pharma with the Japanese co-development and co-marketing rights to Stimuvax. Outside Japan, Stimuvax is currently being studied in late-stage trials as a treatment for patients suffering from non-small cell lung cancer. Within Japan, a mid-stage trial for the said indication is currently ongoing for the candidate. Merck KGaA will receive an upfront payment of €5 million as a part of this agreement. Merck KGaA obtained exclusive worldwide licensing rights for Stimuvax from Oncothyreon Inc. (NasdaqGM: ONTY - News).

We note that the company has been busy signing deals and acquiring companies lately. Last month, Merck KGaA announced the acquisition of exclusive worldwide development and commercialization rights to multiple sclerosis (MS) candidate PI-2301. The candidate was being developed by Peptimmune Inc.%2

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