An unlikely partnership? Perhaps, but Merck (MSD) and Pfizer have joined forces to develop and commercialize a drug for type 2 diabetes mellitus, according to a report by Reuters. The drug, ertugliflozin, is an oral sodium glucose cotransporter (SGLT2) inhibitor, and is nearing Phase III trials – behind J&J's Invokana (canagliflozin) which was recently approved in the US.
Ertugliflozin will be developed both as a standalone product and in combination with other drugs, including metformin and Merck's DPP4-inhibitor Januvia (see 5 Up-and-Coming Treatments for Type 2 Diabetes).
Pfizer Primary Care president and general manager John Young said, “Through this collaboration, we believe we can build on Merck’s leadership position in diabetes care with the introduction of ertugliflozin, an innovative SGLT2 inhibitor discovered by Pfizer scientists.”
Merck Research Laboratories senior vice president and Diabetes and Endocrinology franchise head Nancy Thornberry said, “We believe ertugliflozin has the potential to complement our strong portfolio of investigational and marketed products, and we look forward to collaborating with Pfizer on its development.”
Investor news website The Street reported that Lexicon Pharmaceuticals has completed a Phase II trial with a similar drug, LX4211, but are looking for a partner in Big Pharma before moving into Phase III trials.
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