Merck takes charge of Stimuvax manufacture

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Merck kgaa

Merck Serono has stumped up $13m (€9m) to add manufacturing rights to its Stimuvax licensing deal with Oncothyreon and buy up any remaining inventory of the candidate lung cancer vaccine.

Stimuvax is a therapeutic vaccine that is currently in Phase III development for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and is the first investigational vaccine to be examined in unresectable stage III forms of the disease.

The revised deal, which builds on the clinical development and commercialisation rights that Merck already hold, gives the Darmstadt-heaquartered group full control of the production process and significantly reduces its future royalty obligation.

In addition, EMD Serono, an affiliate of Merck’s German parent Merck KGaA, has taken charge of Oncothyreon’s manufacturing facility in Edmonton, Canada.

Oncothyreon, which moved its HQ from Canada to the Puget Sound in the US in 2007, said that eight members of its 60 strong Edmonton workforce would be laid off as a result of the Merck deal. In addition, CFO Edward Taylor and VP of synthetic biologics Rao Koganty are due to retire at the end of the year.

Merck’s VP of technical operations Hanns-Eberhard Erle said that the move “reflects our confidence in Stimuvax’ future role in the treatment of cancer and also our commitment to expanding our oncology portfolio.

In addition, with the Edmonton facility we are proud to be adding a group of experienced and dedicated individuals to our workforce who will form a vital arm of the team that supports the ongoing development of Stimuvax​,” Erle continued.

Robert Kirkman, Oncothyreon’s CEO said that: “Merck Serono will be able to bring its resources and manufacturing expertise to the development of a commercial manufacturing process for Stimuvax​.”

Kirkman added that the deal will allow Oncothyreon to focus resources on its proprietary pipeline of targeted small molecule cancer drugs.

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