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Nicholas Piramal, Merck enter R&D collaboration

Nicholas Piramal India and Merck & Co, which operates in India through its subsidiary MSD Pharmaceuticals...

Nicholas Piramal India (NPIL) and Merck & Co, which operates in India through its subsidiary MSD Pharmaceuticals, has announced a research and development collaboration agreement to discover and develop new drugs for two selected targets provided by Merck.

NPIL will be responsible for carrying out an integrated drug discovery program from hits to leads through pre-clinical candidate selection, followed by Investigational New Drug (IND) — enabling non-clinical studies and human clinical trials demonstrating proof-of-concept primarily for Oncology. Merck will have an option to advance the most promising drug candidates into late stage clinical trials and to commercialise these drug candidates. “NPIL will be eligible to receive milestone payments associated with progress in the development of drug candidates of up to $175 million per target, plus royalties on sales of any products resulting from the collaboration,” Nicholas Piramal chairman Ajay Piramal said.

From the targets, Nicholas Piramal would be involved in developing the molecule, pre-clinical trials, clinical trials phase 1 and phase 2. If the clinical trials fail before phase 2, then Nicholas Piramal would not receive any milestone payments. As of now, Merck has given the two targets free of cost to Nicholas Piramal.

The Indian company would bare the cost of investment in developing the molecule till the Phase 2. “It won’t cost us much because we have the necessary infrastructure,” Nicholas Piramal director Swati Piramal said. For research-driven Merck, the tie-up with Nicholas Piramal gives it an opportunity to expand its opportunities. “We cannot do everything. There is a limit to how many compounds we can discover and develop internally,” Merck Senior vice president Mervyn J Turner said. Globally, Merck has entered into 140 tie-ups (such as Nicholas Piramal) of different kinds in the last three years. “Most of these are in the US and Europe. Increasingly, we are looking into India,” Turner said.

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First published on: 20-11-2007 at 12:09:14 am
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