Merck Abandons Once-Promising Experimental Cancer Drug to Ariad

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Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE:MRK) has officially washed its hands of a once-lauded experimental cancer drug it invested in along with Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:ARIA) Merck informed Ariad last week that it was terminating its license agreement and handing back the drug to Ariad, FierceBiotech reports.

At one time, the drug, known as ridaforolimus, was considered a promising new cancer treatment. Merck originally planned to invest up to $700 million in the project, which yielded a phase 3 clinical trial in advanced sarcomas. The drug was then rejected, however, when the Food and Drug Administration claimed that due to the drug’s risk-benefit profile, it would require another trial. Prior to the drug’s rejection by the FDA, Merck had already paid Ariad about $200 million as part of the partnership.

“Last week, Merck informed us that it is terminating its license agreement for the global development and commercialization of ridaforolimus, our mTOR inhibitor, in oncology.” Ariad’s announcement says. “By the terms of the agreement, this becomes effective in November 2014 at which time all rights related to ridaforolimus in oncology will be returned to Ariad, creating a new clinical and business opportunity.”

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