Idera, Merck get antitrust clearance for $400 million-plus deal

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. Idera Pharmaceuticals has received clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act for its worldwide licensing and collaboration agreement with Merck, according to published reports. The deal could be worth more than $400 million.

Idera will exclusively license its DNA-based compounds, Toll-like Receptor 9 agonists IMO-2055 and IMO-2125, to Merck for use in cancer treatments. Idera will exclusively retain the rights to the drugs as a use for cancer vaccines. Merck will pay Idera $40 million upfront and up to $381 million in milestone payments as well as royalties should the products reach the market.

The drugs included in the deal include IMO-2055, which is in a phase IIa trial in patients with renal-cell carcinoma. IMO-2055 is currently in a phase Ib trial in combination with Genentech’s Avastin and Pharmaceutical’s Tarceva in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer as well as in a phase I trial in combination with chemotherapy agents in patients with difficult-to-treat solid tumors.

The other drug, IMO-2125 is in a phase I trial in patients with chronic hepatitis C who have had no success with standard treatment—an indication that will not be part of the Merck agreement.

With the receipt of the Hart-Scott clearance, Idera said the agreement is now in effect and it is entitled to receive the upfront licensing fee of $40 million from Merck.

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