US-based pharmaceutical group Merck & Co has entered into an agreement with Japan-based Eisai Co aimed at further developing and, subsequently, marketing cancer drug Lenvima (lenvatinib), a treatment discovered by Eisai which has already been approved for a dozen cancer types. The agreement includes two clinical trials aimed at assessing Lenvima in combination with Keytruda, which has potential to fetch €5.7bn. The combination has already been tested for two cancer types and will be now tested for 11 more types. Under the agreement, Eisai will receive an upfront payment of $300m, plus a subsequent $650m. Eisai will receive an additional $385m subject to fulfillment of precise milestones, whereas Merck will receive $450m as reimbursement for R&D costs.
The deal is similar to the agreement that the same Merck & Co. signed with AstraZeneca last July, in order to co-develop the Lynparza (AstraZeneca)-Keytruda (Merck & Co.) combo therapy.
Eisai’s shares rose over 10% after the announcement, while Merck &Co.’s remained fairly unaltered.