Product News and Recalls

Merck and Pfizer teaming up on diabetes drug

A story on says pharmaceutical companies Merck and Pfizer, ordinarily rivals, are teaming up to develop a new medicine for type 2 diabetes.

Merck is paying $60 million up front for the rights to co-develop Pfizer’s diabetes drug called ertugliflozin, which is currently in late-stage development. Merck will also get the right to market ertugliflozin separately or in combination with its own diabetes treatment.

But recent health concerns have cropped up about Merck’s own diabetes medication, Januvia, which the story describes as a “$5.7 billion blockbuster.”

Studies have linked Januvia to a higher risk of pancreatitis (an inflammation of the pancreas) and pancreatic cancer. Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Byetta, another diabetes medication in the same class of drugs as Januvia, has also been linked to those ailments as well as an increased risk of thyroid cancer.

Merck will retain a 60 percent share of ertugliflozin’s revenues and costs, while Pfizer will have 40 percent ownership.

The story notes that the collaboration between the two pharmaceutical giants is unusual. One Pfizer executive compared it to “the Yankees and Red Sox combining their scouting departments looking for prospects.”

It also notes that ertugliflozin faces steep competition from other new diabetes drugs. Johnson & Johnson’s Invokana has already been approved. And although Forxiga from AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb has not yet been approved, it’s further along in development.

You should consult with a doctor if you have any ongoing symptoms or health concerns, and before making any changes in medication. You should also consult with a Lopez McHugh attorney if you or a loved one was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer after taking Januvia or Byetta.

See the story here: