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Cardiome regains rights to Brinavess from Merck

NEW YORK (AP) -- Cardiome Pharma Corp. said Wednesday it is regaining the development and sales rights to its heart drug Brinavess from its partner Merck & Co.

Brinavess, or vernakalant, is a treatment for a type of heartbeat irregularity called atrial fibrillation. An IV form of the drug is approved in the European Union and Latin America but not in the U.S. Merck was developing an oral version of the drug, but canceled that research in March because of regulatory issues.

Shares of Cardiome are down 81 percent since that announcement. The stock rose 5 cents, or 12.7 percent, to 42 cents in midday trading.

Cardiome, which is based in Vancouver, British Columbia, said it plans to continue developing the oral and IV versions of the drug in North America. Merck and Cardiome said they will work together to make sure Brinavess remains available as Cardiome takes over marketing of the drug.

Shares of Merck, which is based in Whitehouse Station, N.J., rose 15 cents to $45.26.