Merck KGaA

Merck KGaA will bolster its mRNA contract manufacturing business with the $780 million acquisition of Exelead, an Indiana-based CDMO, the multinational announced last week.

Exelead’s specialties include lipid nanoparticle-based drug delivery technology used in mRNA-based therapeutics, according to a Merck press release.

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Merck KGaA announced positive results this week from Phase 3 trials in Kenya and Côte d’Ivoire of the pediatric schistosomiasis treatment arpraziquantel. The orally dispersible pill is more child-friendly than current standard of care praziquantel and cured “close to or above” 90% of participants ages 3 months to 6 years after three weeks of treatment, according to the press release.

The German multinational now plans to apply for regulatory approval from the EMA.

As world leaders descended on the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow this week, several pharma companies promoted their own ESG pledges.

First, Moderna on Monday outlined a commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions globally by 2030. The announcement touted a plan to use renewable or offset energy in all U.S. facilities starting this year and to implement sustainable construction for new plants in Africa and Canada. CEO Stéphane Bancel said in the press release that…

Merck KGaA’s MilliporeSigma subsidiary will help Saudi Arabia-based SaudiVax design and launch a new biologics and vaccine manufacturing facility serving the Middle East and North Africa, MilliporeSigma announced Wednesday.

The collaboration aims to “localize” the production of “high-quality, Halal, and affordable vaccines and biotherapeutics” in Saudi Arabia, according to MilliporeSigma’s press release.

The Lancet Infectious Diseases on Tuesday published first-in-human studies on a novel antimalarial compound that Merck KGaA is developing with the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV). The ascending-dose and volunteer infection studies support the development of M5717—a plasmodium eukaryotic translation elongation factor 2 inhibitor—as a component of a single-dose antimalarial combination therapy or for malaria prophylaxis, the article said.

However, an accompanying comment emphasized…

British researchers have identified a series of new drug compounds that could treat schistosomiasis, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) announced on Wednesday.

LSHTM researchers and the nonprofit drug discovery company Salvensis screened more than 300,000 compounds—donated by the Medicines for Malaria Venture—to discover their ability to kill the three main species of parasitic worms.

In mouse models, the compounds were highly effective against both…

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…