& Co. and DOV Pharmaceutical
have signed an agreement for the development and commercialization
of DOV’s novel triple-uptake inhibitors for depression and
related psychiatric disorders.
Merck has licensed worldwide rights to DOV 21,947, now in Phase
I clinical trials, for all indications, and to DOV 216,303 for
depression and anxiety. DOV will receive $35 million up front,
up to $300 million for reaching certain milestones, and up to
$120 million for hitting certain sales levels. DOV licensed DOV
216,303 from Wyeth in 1998.
“We believe that a triple-uptake inhibitor that affects
the neurotransmitters norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine
has the potential to offer physicians a real advance in the treatment
of depression and related conditions,” says Peter S. Kim,
president of Merck Research Laboratories.
The agreement is the latest in a string of drug development
deals for Merck. Earlier this month it signed a pact with Pierre
Fabre Medicament targeting oncology, and during June and July
it signed deals with Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals,
and Sunesis Pharmaceuticals aimed at drugs for cancer, ocular
diseases, and viral infections, respectively.