Merck KGaA

Merck KGaA announced last week a contract with Strides Pharma’s Nairobi subsidiary Universal to manufacture the German multinational’s new pediatric schistosomiasis formulation, arpraziquantel.

Undergoing Phase 3 trials in Kenya and Côte d’Ivoire, the candidate is orally dispersible and more child-friendly than praziquantel, its precursor and the current standard of care, according to the press release.

Merck KGaA said the agreement will build up “extensive production capacities…

Seven leading pharma companies released first-quarter 2021 financial results in May, while one Japanese firm reported full-year 2020 results for the fiscal year ending in March. (Figures exclude exchange rate and portfolio changes where applicable.)
Leading the pack, first-quarter sales for South Korea’s newly public SK Bioscience soared 397% year-over-year to $101.1 million, as its Covid-19 vaccine CMO business started “making numbers in earnest” in supplying the AstraZeneca/…

The state of the hunt: 

Moderna’s vaccine showed high efficacy in adolescents.
  U.S. regulators cleared a monoclonal antibody from GSK and Vir for emergency use.
  Sanofi and GSK launched the Phase 3 trial of their vaccine candidate.   Approved or authorized vaccines

Moderna touts data for teens: Less than two months after Pfizer and BioNTech boasted of their mRNA-based jab’s 100% efficacy in adolescents, Moderna shared almost identical news. The Massachusetts-…

The Access to Medicine (AtM) Foundation last week published a pediatric analysis of additional results from its 2021 AtM Index, finding just 7% of pharmaceutical companies’ R&D is for children under 12, despite significant gaps in treatment options for children.

The report praised GSK, Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi for being “the most active” in developing pediatric versions of products, and also named examples of drugs that “could each make a big difference” for LMICs: Eli…

Citing increased demand for its products, Merck KGaA announced last week that the company is investing $29.5 million to equip its Alsace, France facility as an assembly production unit for Covid-19 vaccines and other therapies.

The press release quoted CEO-in-waiting Belén Garijo as saying the expansion “speaks of the company’s global commitment during and beyond this pandemic.”

The Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium announced new funding last month from Japan’s Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund and the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership.

The separate awards—worth a combined $9.3 million—will fund the ADOPT program, dedicated to “wide acceptance and equitable access” for a child-friendly dispersible tablet formulation of schistosomiasis drug praziquantel.

With backers including Astellas, Farmanguinhos and Merck…

KGaA reported fourth-quarter and full-year 2020 financials last week. (Figures exclude exchange rate and portfolio changes where applicable.)

For the quarter, group sales jumped 11% to $5.2 billion, 1.6% above analyst consensus estimates.

For the full year, group sales increased by 6% to $20 billion, in line with consensus estimates. The German company attributed the hike to a 71% jump in sales of multiple sclerosis drug Mavenclad and strong results from its Life Science business…


The state of the hunt:

Novavax’s protein-based vaccine candidate demonstrated 89.3% efficacy in a UK Phase 3 trial.
  J&J/Janssen’s single-dose vaccine was 66% effective against moderate to severe disease in Phase 3.
  Vaccines from J&J, Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer/BioNTech appear less effective against the SARS-CoV-2 variant first identified in South Africa.



Approved or authorized vaccines

AstraZeneca’s vaccine…

Four pharma companies recently announced moves to increase access to medicines.

Ahead of World Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) Day (January 30), Novartis renewed its leprosy multidrug therapy donation program with WHO—extending the commitment by five years to the end of 2025. The agreement also includes the donation of fascioliasis drug triclabendazole.

On the same day, Germany’s Merck KGaA announced that it will provide an additional 8 million tablets of praziquantel per year…

Merck KGaA announced last week that it is buying German mRNA contract development and manufacturing organization AmpTec, expanding the Darmstadt-based company’s mRNA capabilities in vaccines, treatments and diagnostics for Covid-19 and other diseases.

The Merck KGaA press release said AmpTec’s differentiated polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based technology has “advantages over other technologies for mRNA manufacturing.” The press release did not disclose financial terms.