Merck in Deal to Study Generic Version of Enbrel
June 14, 2011
Merck & Co. will team up with a South Korean company to study and sell a generic version of the rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis drug Enbrel, the company said, reports Bloomberg. Merck did not disclose financial terms of its agreement with Hanwha Chemical Corp. Hanwha developed the generic, which is being studied in a late-stage clinical trial in placebo to demonstrate in works as well as Enbrel as part of a regimen for rheumatoid arthritis. Merck will handle clinical development and manufacturing in all countries except South Korea and Turkey. Hanwha will get an upfront payment and could get payments for technology transfer, development milestones, and royalties on any sales. Enbrel, or etanercept, is sold by Amgen Inc. in the U.S. and by Pfizer Inc. in the rest of the world. It is a biotech drug, meaning it is made inside living cells. Traditional pharmaceuticals are made from chemical compounds and they are simpler to manufacture. During the first quarter, Amgen reported $875 million in Enbrel sales, up 9 percent from a year earlier, while Pfizer posted an 8 percent increase in sales of the drug, to $870 million.