Merck, GlaxoSmithKline to collaborate on trial

BRIEFS

Merck and Co. Inc. will collaborate with GlaxoSmithKline in an experiment to treat kidney cancer, one of several announcements by Merck, which is located in Hunterdon County.

The companies will begin clinical trials to evaluate the safety of combining Merck's experimental cancer drug, called MK-3475, which unleashes the body's immune system, with GlaxoSmithKline's orally administered kinase inhibitor, pazopanib, in advanced renal cell carcinoma.

"Collaborations like this are central to Merck's strategy to evaluate the potential of MK3475 for the treatment of cancer," Iain Dukes, a senior vice president at Merck Research Laboratories, said in a statement.

Dukes said the company plans further collaborations to investigate MK-3475 in combination with other anti-cancer agents to fight numerous tumors.

Further details of the collaboration were not disclosed. In other developments:

* A Food and Dmg Administration advisory committee on Dec. 12 recommended approval of oral allergy dmg Grastek, which Merck is developing with Danish pharmaceutical ALK to treat grass pollen allergies. The FDA considers advice of its Allergenic Products Advisory Committee's guidance when reviewing investigational medicines. Merck anticipates the FDA's review of Grastek to be completed in the first half of 2014.

* Merck's animal health division also received a positive opinion from a European Medicines Agency committee for Bravecto, chewable tablets for dogs that treat flea and tick infestation. The Committee for Medicinal Products for Veterinary Use recommended the EMA grant marketing authorization for Bravecto. - Tom Zanki