Galapagos may get $600M in expanded Merck deal for atherosclerosis

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Galapagos has expanded its global strategic alliance in metabolic diseases with an affiliate of Merck to incorporate the development of new therapies for atherosclerosis.

Mechelen, Belgium-based Galapagos will be responsible for the discovery and pre-clinical development of new small molecule candidate drugs based on new Galapagos targets. The alliance will make use of Galapagos’ proprietary target discovery platform for identification of novel targets in atherosclerosis, as well as in obesity and diabetes. After validation, targets will be selected by a joint steering committee and entered into screening and chemistry by Galapagos.

Merck of Whitehouse, N.J., said it will have an exclusive option to license each candidate for clinical development and commercialization globally. Upon exercise of such option, Merck will be responsible for the development and commercialization of the candidate drug. Galapagos may execute phase I clinical studies and will have the right to develop and commercialize certain compounds for which Merck does not exercise its exclusive option.

In January, Galapagos announced an alliance with Merck in diabetes and obesity, with milestone payments with the potential to exceed €170 million ($254.1 million U.S.). Also, this expansion is separate from Galapagos’ alliance with Merck in inflammatory diseases announced in April.

Under the terms of this expanded agreement, which now includes small molecule candidate drugs for pre-clinical development in atherosclerosis, Galapagos is eligible to receive research, regulatory and sales milestone payments that may total in excess of €400 million ($597.8 million U.S.). In addition Galapagos is eligible to receive royalties upon commercialization of any products covered under the agreement.