CASTRES, France & WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 4, 2004--Pierre Fabre Medicament has signed a collaborative research, development and license agreement with Merck & Co., Inc. for F50035, Pierre Fabre Medicament's recombinant humanized antibody targeted against the insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) receptor. F50035 is currently in preclinical development for the treatment of cancer.
Under the terms of the agreement, both partners will participate in a three-year, renewable research program aimed at completing characterization of the anti-tumor activity of F50035 and identifying back-up antibodies. Merck will be responsible for development and manufacturing of F50035. Merck is receiving worldwide marketing rights for F50035 and related antibodies, with Pierre Fabre Medicament maintaining exclusive rights to commercialize the product in France and certain other French-speaking countries. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The IGF-1 receptor is over-expressed in many tumor types, including those of the colon, breast and prostate, and it therefore is a potential target for the development of oncology drugs. The monoclonal antibody F50035 exhibits a novel mechanism of action. By targeting the IGF-1 receptor, F50035 is internalized by tumor cells, causing those cells to die. F50035 may have potential for use as a monotherapy or in conjunction with other drugs for the treatment of various cancers.
"This agreement with Merck underscores the relevance of our research approaches in this field, and demonstrates that innovation is not dependent upon the size of an organization," said Jacques Kusmierek, M.D., Pierre Fabre Medicament's R & D director and president of the Pierre Fabre Research Institute. "This collaborative research program enables researchers from the Pierre Fabre Immunology Center to benefit from the exceptional human, scientific and technological environment of Merck, and has the potential to lead to the development of a novel and targeted new anticancer drug."
"This partnership also illustrates our research and development strategy, oriented toward partnerships, both for product development and for worldwide marketing," added Jean-Pierre Couzinier, M.D., Pierre Fabre Medicament's chief operating officer. "It is a demonstration of a new era in the development strategy of Pierre Fabre Laboratories."
"We are very excited about the superb science that the scientists at Pierre Fabre have put into the development of this antibody approach targeting IGF-1R, a protein that plays a key role in controlling apoptosis in so many human tumors," said Stephen H. Friend, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president of Molecular Profiling and Cancer Research at Merck.
"We are delighted to be partnering with Pierre Fabre for this exciting opportunity in an area of increasing focus for Merck. It is another example of our commitment to use partnerships to identify the best opportunities that meet major unmet medical needs and bring them to the marketplace," said Merv Turner, Ph.D., senior vice president, Worldwide Licensing and External Research at Merck.
F50035 was discovered by scientists working at the Pierre Fabre Immunology Center (CIPF) located in Saint Julien en Genevois. Since its opening in 1990, this research center dedicated to immunotherapy of cancer has developed sound technological know-how regarding design and production of very specific antibodies.
About Pierre Fabre Medicament
The Pierre Fabre Group, the second-largest independent laboratory in France, employs some 9,000 people, and achieved 1.43 billion euros in sales in 2003. Operating in the areas of ethical medicine, health products and dermo-cosmetics with the brands Avene, Ducray, A-derma, Galenic, Klorane and Rene Furterer, it achieves 44 percent of its business abroad. With over 1,000 researchers, Pierre Fabre Medicament dedicates 23 percent of its annual sales to R&D, in five major therapeutic areas in terms of public health: oncology (the priority R&D area of Pierre Fabre Medicament, with 50 percent of all R&D expenses), central nervous system, cardiology, internal medicine/urology and dermatology.
Merck & Co., Inc. is a global research-driven pharmaceutical products company. Merck discovers, develops, manufactures and markets a broad range of innovative products to improve human and animal health, directly and through its joint ventures. Merck Sharp & Dohme, or MSD, is the name Merck uses for conducting its business in all other countries outside the United States and Canada.
Merck Forward-Looking Statement
This press release contains "forward-looking statements" as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements involve risks and uncertainties, which may cause results to differ materially from those set forth in the statements. The forward-looking statements may include statements regarding product development, product potential or financial performance. No forward-looking statement can be guaranteed, and actual results may differ materially from those projected. Merck undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. Forward-looking statements in this press release should be evaluated together with the many uncertainties that affect Merck's business, particularly those mentioned in the cautionary statements in Item 1 of Merck's Form 10-K for the year ended Dec. 31, 2003, and in its periodic reports on Form 10-Q and Form 8-K (if any) which the company incorporates by reference.
Pierre Fabre Laboratories
Alexandrine Urbain, (011) 33-1-49-10-81-71
Merck & Co., Inc.
Janet Skidmore, 908-423-3046
Merck & Co., Inc.
Michael Rabinowitz, 908-423-5185
Source: Merck & Co., Inc.