Merck Receives Breakthrough Therapy Designation from FDA and PRIME Status from EMA for Investigational Ebola Zaire Vaccine (V920)

Monday, July 25, 2016 8:00 am EDT

Dateline:

KENILWORTH, N.J.

Public Company Information:

NYSE:
MRK
"The granting of Breakthrough Therapy Designation by the FDA and PRIME status by the EMA will enable us to continue to accelerate development of V920, and we greatly appreciate the collaboration of these agencies in moving this vaccine candidate forward in potentially meeting this public health need"

KENILWORTH, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Merck (NYSE:MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, today announced two regulatory milestones for the company’s investigational vaccine for Ebola Zaire, V920 (rVSV∆G-ZEBOV-GP, live attenuated): the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted the vaccine candidate Breakthrough Therapy Designation, and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has granted PRIME (PRIority MEdicines) status.

The FDA’s Breakthrough Therapy Designation is intended to expedite the development and review of a candidate that is planned for use, alone or in combination, to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition when preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies on one or more clinically significant endpoints.

PRIME is an approach from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to enhance support for the development of medicines that target an unmet medical need. PRIME is intended to optimize development plans and speed up assessment of the medicine’s application so these medicines may potentially reach patients earlier. PRIME focuses on medicines that may offer a major therapeutic advantage over existing treatments, or benefit patients without treatment options. These medicines are considered priority medicines by EMA. To be accepted for PRIME, a medicine has to show its potential to benefit patients with unmet medical needs based on early clinical data.

“The granting of Breakthrough Therapy Designation by the FDA and PRIME status by the EMA will enable us to continue to accelerate development of V920, and we greatly appreciate the collaboration of these agencies in moving this vaccine candidate forward in potentially meeting this public health need,” said Paula Annunziato, M.D., vice president for clinical research, Merck Research Laboratories.

V920 was initially engineered by scientists from the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory and subsequently licensed to a subsidiary of NewLink Genetics Corporation. In late 2014, when the peak of the Ebola outbreak in western Africa was at its worst, Merck licensed V920 from NewLink Genetics, with the goal of accelerating the development, licensure, and availability of this candidate vaccine. Since that time, Merck has worked closely with NewLink Genetics and a number of external collaborators to enable a broad clinical development program with funding from the U.S. Government including the Department of Health and Human Service’s Biomedical Advanced Research Development Authority (BARDA) and the Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction Program/Joint Vaccination Acquisition Program (DTRA/JVAP) among others. Additional research evaluating V920 is ongoing.

Merck is responsible for the research, development, manufacturing, and regulatory efforts in support of V920. The company has committed to working closely with other stakeholders to accelerate the continued development, production and, if licensed, distribution of the vaccine.

Merck’s Commitment to infectious diseases

For more than 80 years, Merck has contributed to the discovery and development of novel medicines and vaccines to combat infectious disease. In addition to a combined portfolio of antibiotic and antifungal medicines, vaccines, and medicines for HIV and HCV. Merck has multiple programs that span discovery through late-state development. Merck currently has 10 compounds in Phase 2/Phase 3 clinical trials for the potential treatment or prevention of infectious diseases.

About Merck

For 125 years, Merck has been a global health care leader working to help the world be well. Merck is known as MSD outside the United States and Canada. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For more information, visit www.merck.com and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Forward-Looking Statement of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA

This news release of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA (the “company”) includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of the company’s management and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. There can be no guarantees with respect to pipeline products that the products will receive the necessary regulatory approvals or that they will prove to be commercially successful. If underlying assumptions prove inaccurate or risks or uncertainties materialize, actual results may differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements.

Risks and uncertainties include but are not limited to, general industry conditions and competition; general economic factors, including interest rate and currency exchange rate fluctuations; the impact of pharmaceutical industry regulation and health care legislation in the United States and internationally; global trends toward health care cost containment; technological advances, new products and patents attained by competitors; challenges inherent in new product development, including obtaining regulatory approval; the company’s ability to accurately predict future market conditions; manufacturing difficulties or delays; financial instability of international economies and sovereign risk; dependence on the effectiveness of the company’s patents and other protections for innovative products; and the exposure to litigation, including patent litigation, and/or regulatory actions.

The company undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Additional factors that could cause results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements can be found in the company’s 2015 Annual Report on Form 10-K and the company’s other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) available at the SEC’s Internet site (www.sec.gov).

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Merck
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Pamela Eisele, 267-305-3558
Skip Irvine, 215-652-6059
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