With Daxas deal, Merck gets into European COPD

Swiss drugmaker Nycomed is bringing Merck (NYSE: MRK) on board to help sell its new lung drug Daxas in Canada and in Europe, where it just won a recommendation for approval last week. It's a score for Nycomed, attracting one of the biggest in Big Pharma to co-market the drug. And it gives Merck a chance to dig deeper into the multibillion-dollar market for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease meds.

Right now, Merck has U.S. rights to the asthma/COPD drug Foradil, a long-acting beta agonist. It has an application pending for a remedy combining Foradil with an inhaled corticosteroid as an asthma treatment. As far as we can tell, it doesn't have European rights to an approved COPD treatment. If the EU regulators follow through on the European Medicines Agency's recommendation for approval on Daxas, that's just what this Nycomed deal will provide. 

Here's how the deal breaks down. Merck and Nycomed would co-promote Daxas in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Canada, with Nycomed manufacturing and distributing the drug in those countries. Merck gets distribution and marketing in the U.K., with Nycomed supplying the product. The financial terms weren't disclosed.

- check out the Nycomed release
- get the news from Reuters