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MSD strikes vernakalant deal with Astellas

US-based pharmaceutical company MSD has acquired the rights for heart drug vernakalant from Astellas

MSD (known as Merck in the US and Canada) has acquired the exclusive rights to develop and commercialise the investigational intravenous formulation of atrial fibrillation drug vernakalant in Canada, Mexico and the US from Astellas.

MSD will pay Astellas an undisclosed upfront fee. In addition, Astellas will be eligible for milestone payments associated with development and regulatory approval, as well as sales thresholds achieved in Canada, Mexico and the US.

Masao Yoshida, president and chief executive of Astellas US, said: "In reviewing the priorities of our North American development programmes, Astellas has decided to divest its rights for vernakalant to Merck."

In October 2003, Astellas US was granted an exclusive licence to develop and commercialise vernakalant iv in Canada, Mexico and the US by Cardiome Pharma Corp. In April 2009, MSD, through a subsidiary, was granted exclusive rights to vernakalant iv outside of Canada, Mexico and the US for rapid conversion of acute atrial fibrillation to normal heart rhythm.

Vernakalant is approved in more than 10 European countries.

27th July 2011

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