Research Setback

Drug by Germany's Merck Fails in Trial

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Bringing drugs to market is a difficult challenge.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    • The German drug maker Merck needs to repair its research and development pipeline or suffer a long-term decline.
  • Facts


    • Potential cancer medication Evofosfamide has proven disappointing for the firm in a recent clinical study.
    • Merck’s former head of pharmaceutical research, Stefan Oschmann, is slated to become the company’s chief executive next year.
    • The company based in Darmstadt intends to make a push next year for its potential multiple-sclerosis medication Cladribin.
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The woes of Germany’s Merck group in bringing new drugs to the market continued Monday when the firm revealed disappointing results for clinical trials of a promising new cancer medication.

The drug, Evofosfamide, didn’t deliver the expected results in clinical trials for treatment of soft-tissue and pancreatic cancer, the Darmstadt-based company said. The drug won’t be developed further in those areas of treatment, it added.

Luciano Rossetti, the head of pharmaceutical research, announced that money budgeted for Evofosfamide will be invested in other development programs and drug candidates such as cancer-immunity medication Aveluma.

The German Merck group is unrelated to U.S. drug maker Merck. The companies were originally one but the United States seized the German companies U.S. assets as war reparations after World War II and the two evolved separately.

The German group had hoped to submit Evofosfamide for approval in 2016.

Merck had acquired the license for the drug’s active ingredient from U.S. maker Threshold Pharmaceuticals in 2012. The decision was made under leadership of then-pharmaceutical research chief Stefan Oschmann.

Mr. Oschmann is slated to become the German drug company’s chief executive next year.

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