PHARMACY

Merck, DNDi announce collaboration on neglected tropical diseases

BY Alaric DeArment

NAIROBI, Kenya Few Americans probably have heard of visceral leishmaniasis or Chagas disease, but these and other illnesses are among the neglected tropical diseases that affect millions of people and can cause life-threatening complications.

For example, Chagas disease, a protozoan-borne illness spread by the blood-sucking kissing bug, so-called because it often feeds near people’s mouths while they sleep, causes damage to the heart that requires successive heart transplants throughout the patient’s lifetime. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 8 and 11 million people in Central and South America are living with Chagas disease. Visceral leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease that infects about 500,000 people each year, causing flu-like symptoms, enlargement of the spleen and liver and anemia.

But an American drug company and a nonprofit group will collaborate to combat these illnesses. Merck & Co. announced Monday that it would partner with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative to discover and develop treatments for the diseases, which often lack adequate treatments.

Under the terms of the agreement, Merck will contribute pharmaceutical drugs and related intellectual property via a nonexclusive, royalty-free license to DNDi to conduct early development programs for drug candidates to treat such illnesses as visceral leishmaniasis and Chagas disease. Merck and DNDi will share intellectual property on drug candidates generated through early development, and Merck will have the option of continuing clinical development and filing for regulatory approval at its own expense or as part of the partnership.

“We are excited by this collaboration, as it represents the kind of sustainable, long-term commitment that helps us to address critical gaps in drug development for neglected diseases,” DNDi research and development director Shing Chang stated.

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NAMI releases PSA initiative regarding psychological disorders

BY Alaric DeArment

ARLINGTON, Va. A nonprofit organization hopes that a new series of public service announcements it has released will encourage people to connect with each other to help themselves, their families and friends who live with psychological disorders.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness announced this week that it had released a PSA initiative called “Puzzle Pieces” that includes four 60-second and three 30-second radio PSAs featuring testimonials from individuals and families that describe their experiences with mental illnesses and the role NAMI played in their recovery.

“We know that with early detection, appropriate treatment and support from family and friends, people with mental illness can lead healthy, rewarding lives,” NAMI executive director Michael Fitzpatrick said. “NAMI members connect to educate each other and encourage their loved ones during their personal journeys to wellness.”

The organization said that an estimated 1-in-5 American families is affected by mental illnesses, including major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder.

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KV Pharmaceutical, Gedeon Richter announce licensing agreement

BY Alaric DeArment

BUDAPEST, Hungary An American drug maker has signed a licensing agreement with a Hungarian pharmaceutical company.

KV Pharmaceutical Co. announced that it had entered into an agreement with Budapest, Hungary-based Gedeon Richter and its American subsidiary for licensing rights to KV technologies and products in the women’s health category.

Under the agreement, Gedeon Richter will have the right to manufacture and distribute certain proprietary technologies and products from KV in the European Union and other areas where it does business, while KV will receive undisclosed milestones and royalties for products that the two companies develop. KV will retain U.S. rights.

“KV Pharmaceutical and Gedeon Richter have for many years enjoyed an excellent relationship and business collaboration, and we are very pleased to extend it in this fashion,” KV Pharmaceutical Co. interim CEO David Van Vliet stated. “We believe this agreement allows both Richter and KV to offer additional enhanced products to more completely serve physicians and their patients.”

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