Merck and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) have reached a deal in their dispute over distribution rights to Remicade (infliximab) and the follow-on drug Simponi (golimumab) in markets outside the US. The blockbuster injectable biologic drugs are marketed to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other immune disorders.
The new agreement amends a previous deal that was forged between Schering-Plough and J&J before Merck bought Schering-Plough in 2009, the same year in which Simponi was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a once-monthly treatment for moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis, active psoriatic arthritis and active ankylosing spondylitis.
J&J filed arbitration in May 2009 claiming that the merger amounted to a change in control of Schering-Plough and therefore permitted J&J to terminate the companies' revenue-sharing agreement for Remicade and the follow-on drug.
The new deal, which was reached by the companies before a decision could be made in the arbitration proceedings, calls for Merck to pay J&J $500m and allows J&J to retain the right to distribute the drugs in the US market.
J&J will also have exclusive marketing rights for the drugs in Canada, Central and South America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific territories beginning July 1. Merck retains rights through Europe and the emerging markets Russia and Turkey, but will split profits from these markets with J&J.
Merck said the deal will allow it to hold onto about 70 per cent of its annual revenue from the drugs, which brought in $2.8bn for the company last year. J&J realised about $4.8bn in revenue from the drugs last year, including $1.2bn in sales to distribution partner Merck.