Merck & Co., Sun Pharmaceutical Partner for Developing Psoriasis Drug Tildrakizumab

Merck & Co., Inc. and Mumbai-headquartered Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. have formed a worldwide licensing agreement for Merck's investigational therapeutic antibody candidate, tildrakizumab, (MK-3222), which is currently being evaluated in Phase III registration trials for the treatment of chronic plaque psoriasis, a skin ailment.

Under the agreement, Sun Pharma will acquire worldwide rights to tildrakizumab for use in all human indications from Merck in exchange for an upfront payment of  $80 million. Merck will continue all clinical development and regulatory activities, which will be funded by Sun Pharma. Upon product approval, Sun Pharma will be responsible for regulatory activities, including subsequent submissions, pharmacovigilance, post-approval studies, manufacturing, and commercialization of the approved product. Merck is eligible to receive undisclosed payments associated with regulatory (including product approval) and sales milestones, as well as tiered royalties ranging from mid-single digit through teen percentage rates on sales. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including the requirements under the Hart Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act.

Tildrakizumab is an investigational humanized, anti-IL-23p19 monoclonal antibody that binds specifically to IL-23p19 and is designed to selectively block the cytokine IL-23. Human genetics suggest that inhibiting IL-23 is effective for treating inflammatory conditions. In addition to treating chronic plaque psoriasis, other potential indications, which may be evaluated in future, include psoriatic arthritis and Crohn's Disease.

Source: Merck & Co.

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