Merck Serono and Ono join forces


Merck KGaA has signed two separate agreements for the collaboration of its Merck Serono division with Japanese-based Ono Pharmaceutical to strengthen its multiple sclerosis and cancer franchises.

The first agreement will see Merck get the worldwide exclusive license rights for the development and commercialisation of ONO-4641 outside of Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

The second license agreement will provide Ono with co-development and co-marketing rights of Stimuvax in Japan.

Stefan Oschmann, responsible for Merck Serono, says its new partner brings a “wealth of experience in developing innovative therapies” and an understanding of Japanese regulatory requirements.

ONO-4641 is a novel oral compound currently in Phase II for the potential treatment of multiple sclerosis. Stimuvax is an investigational therapeutic cancer immunotherapy that is in development in Phase III for patients suffering from non-small cell lung cancer.

Under the terms of the agreements, Merck will pay an initial 1.5 billon Japanese Yen – around €14 million – for the exclusive right for ONO-4641. Ono may also receive achievement-based payments of certain development, regulatory and commercial milestones.

As part of the agreement for Stimuvax, Ono will receive an additional upfront payment of €5 million.