Merck, Endocyte sign deal to develop cancer drug
WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. — Two drug makers have signed a deal to develop an experimental drug for treating two types of cancer.
Merck and Endocyte announced that they would develop and commercialize the latter’s drug EC145 (vintafolide), currently in a phase-3 trial, as a treatment for platinum-resistant ovarian cancer and a phase-2 trial for non-small cell lung cancer. Both studies are also using Endocyte’s experimental diagnostic agent, EC20 (etarfolatide).
"Vintafolide is a promising and innovative late-stage cancer drug candidate," Merck Research Labs EVP and president Peter Kim said. "In addition to pursuing the lead indication of platinum-resistant ovarian cancer, Merck plans to further evaluate its potential for treatment of multiple other cancer types."
Under the two companies’ agreement, Merck will pay Endocyte $120 million plus up to $880 million in milestone payments based on various development, regulatory and commercialization goals. If the drug receives regulatory approval, Endocyte also will receive an equal share of U.S. profits and a double-digit percentage of royalties on sales in other countries. Merck and Endocyte will market the drug together in the United States, while Merck will have the exclusive right to market it in other countries.
Filling the need for specialty Rx
With the rise in people diagnosed with complex illnesses like cancers, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hepatitis, Crohn’s disease and rare genetic disorders, the need for specialty pharmacies to deal with the complex drug regimens they require will rise as well.
Hy-Vee made waves two years ago when it signed a deal with Omaha, Neb.-based specialty provider Amber Pharmacy to create Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions, which offers specialty pharmacy services through Hy-Vee’s retail stores. In September, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield named Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions as its preferred provider of specialty pharmacy benefits for members.
“Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions’ customized patient programs, clinical expertise and dedication to customer service will allow Wellmark to deliver high-quality specialty pharmacy benefits while effectively managing costs,” Wellmark pharmacy director Matt Hosford said.
Fighting obesity through education
Obesity has risen dramatically across the United States in the last 30 years, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of the U.S. population is obese, including 17% of children and adolescents.
But one supermarket-pharmacy chain is doing its part to address the problem, especially among the young. Since early last year, Giant-Carlisle has been sponsoring a series of childhood obesity forums around the markets it serves in Pennsylvania and Virginia to discuss the problem and how to combat it.
The first happened in Willow Grove, Pa., and brought together physicians from the community and Philadelphia, the in-store nutritionist from the local Giant store, and officials from local nonprofits and the school district. Similar events followed in Harrisburg, Pa., and at a Martin’s Food Markets store in Richmond, Va.