Pfizer and Merck KGaA Announce Strategic Alliance

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Pfizer will pay $850 million upfront and as much as $2 billion later in a deal to jointly develop one of Merck?s cancer drugs.

Merck of Germany and Pfizer announced on Nov. 17, 2014 that the two companies are joining forces in the development of immunotherapy MSB0010718C, an investigational anti-PD-L1 antibody to treat various types of cancer. The two companies plan to explore the therapeutic potential of this investigational agent in combination with other therapies in both Merck’s and Pfizer’s portfolios.

Under the agreement, Merck KGaA will receive $850 million upfront and would be eligible to receive $2 billion later in milestone payments. Both companies will be financially responsible for commercialization and will benefit equally from the revenue generated from the sale of the products. In addition, Merck will be responsible for co-promoting Pfizer’s non-small cell lung cancer treatment Xalkori (crizotinib)‎.

The alliance will fuel up to 20 immuno-oncology clinical developments projects, which are expected to begin in early 2015. The partnership will help both companies expand their oncology businesses.

"Combining this promising anti-PD-L1 antibody with Pfizer's extensive portfolio of small molecules and antibodies provides an opportunity to potentially broaden the use of immunotherapy for patients with cancer and rapidly expand our oncology business," said Albert Bourla, group president of vaccines, oncology, and consumer healthcare businesses at Pfizer, in a press release. "In addition, this alliance enables us to significantly accelerate the timeframe of our development programs and move into the first wave of potential immuno-oncology based treatment regimens."


"The agreement with Pfizer is a very important milestone in taking our pharma pipeline forward," Karl-Ludwig Kley, the Merck chairman, said in a news release.