Merck, Santen sign agreement for prostaglandin analogue

May 6, 2009

Merck & Co. Inc. and Santen Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. have announced a worldwide licensing agreement for tafluprost, a prostaglandin analogue under investigation in the United States.

Whitehouse Station, NJ

-Merck & Co. Inc. and Santen Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. have announced a worldwide licensing agreement for tafluprost, a prostaglandin analogue under investigation in the United States.

Tafluprost, in preserved and preservative-free formulations, has received marketing approval for the reduction of elevated IOP in open-angle glaucoma and ocular hypertension in several Scandanavian and European countries (where it is sold as Taflotan) as well as in Japan (where it is sold as Tapros), and approval has been filed for in additional European and Asia Pacific markets.

Under the terms of the agreement, Merck will pay an undisclosed fee as well as milestones and royalty payments based on future sales of the eye drop in exchange for exclusive commercial rights to the drug in Western Europe (excluding Germany), North America, South America, and Africa. Santen will retain commercial rights to tafluprost in most countries in Eastern Europe, Northern Europe, and Asia Pacific, including Japan. Merck will provide promotion support to Santen in Germany and Poland. If tafluprost is approved in the United States, Santen has an option to co-promote it here.

“Through this licensing agreement with Merck, we are well positioned to significantly expand our access to additional markets,” said Akira Kurokawa, president and chief executive officer of Santen.

Vlad Hogenhuis, MD, senior vice president and general manager, neuroscience and ophthalmology, Merck, said, “The licensing of tafluprost from Santen . . . further expands Merck’s strong portfolio of topical treatments in ophthalmology.”