New Data Analyses for VICTRELIS™ (boceprevir) Will Be Presented at The International Liver Congress™ / 2012 EASL Annual Meeting

Wednesday, April 4, 2012 8:08 am EDT

Dateline:

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J.

Public Company Information:

NYSE:
MRK
"Merck remains committed to investigating therapies for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C, and we are excited to share new data on VICTRELIS at this year's EASL congress in Barcelona"

Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, announced today that several new data analyses from studies of VICTRELIS™ (boceprevir) capsules, the company's oral hepatitis C virus (HCV) NS3/4A protease inhibitor, will be presented at The International Liver Congress™ / 47th European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) annual meeting. The meeting will be held from April 18 – 22 in Barcelona. In total, more than a dozen abstracts highlighting Merck medicines and investigational therapies for chronic HCV infection will be presented.

Presented for the first time as part of a late-breaker poster session will be results from a randomized trial comparing ribavirin dose reduction and use of erythropoietin as methods of anemia management in previously untreated adult patients with chronic HCV genotype 1 receiving VICTRELIS plus peginterferon alfa and ribavirin (P/R).

Interim results also will be presented from the PROVIDE study, an ongoing, open-label, single-arm, multicenter rollover study for patients who participated in the P/R control arms of the Phase II and Phase III studies for VICTRELIS and failed to achieve SVR. These interim results will report sustained virologic response (SVR) rates in prior P/R treatment failures after retreatment with VICTRELIS and P/R, including those patients who met the traditional definition of null response (less than a 2 log10 HCV-RNA decline at treatment week 12).

"Merck remains committed to investigating therapies for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C, and we are excited to share new data on VICTRELIS at this year's EASL congress in Barcelona," said Eliav Barr, M.D., vice president, Infectious Diseases, Project Leadership and Management, Merck Research Laboratories.

The abstracts were published today and can be accessed on the EASL website. For program information, please visit http://www2.kenes.com/liver-congress/pages/home.aspx.

VICTRELIS (boceprevir) – Key Oral Presentation

Parallel Session - Hepatitis C Therapy

Thursday, April 19, 16:00 - 18:00 CEST, Hall A

Sustained Virologic Response (SVR) in Prior PegInterferon/Ribavirin (PR) Treatment Failures After Retreatment with Boceprevir (BOC) + PR: The PROVIDE Study Interim Results ; J.P. Bronowicki et al. 17:00-17:15 CET

VICTRELIS – Key Poster Presentations

A Randomized Trial Comparing Ribavirin Dose Reduction Versus Erythropoietin For Anemia Management In Previously Untreated Patients With Chronic Hepatitis C Receiving Boceprevir Plus Peginterferon/Ribavirin; F. Poordad et al. Abstract 1419. Thursday, April 19.

In Vitro Characterization of the Pan-Genotype Activity of the HCV NS3/4A Protease Inhibitors Boceprevir and Telaprevir; J. Howe et al. Abstract 844. Thursday, April 19.

HCV NS3/4A Protease Resistance-Associated Variants (RAVs) Identified in Genotype 1A Patients Exhibit Differences in Phenotypic Resistance to Boceprevir and Telaprevir in Genotype 1A Replicon Assays; S. Black et al. Abstract 1198. Thursday, April 19.

Indications and usage for VICTRELIS

VICTRELIS is indicated for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1 (G1) infection, in combination with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin (P/R), in adult patients (18 years and older) with compensated liver disease, including cirrhosis, who are previously untreated or who have failed previous interferon and ribavirin therapy.

The following points should be considered when initiating VICTRELIS for treatment of chronic HCV infection:

  • VICTRELIS must not be used as monotherapy and should only be used in combination with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin.
  • VICTRELIS efficacy has not been studied in patients who have previously failed therapy with a treatment regimen that includes VICTRELIS or other HCV NS3/4A protease inhibitors.
  • VICTRELIS in combination with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin has not been studied in patients documented to be historical null responders (less than a 2 log HCV-RNA decline by treatment week 12) during prior therapy with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin. The clinical studies included patients who were poorly interferon responsive. Patients with less than 0.5 log HCV-RNA decline in viral load at treatment week 4 with peginterferon alfa plus ribavirin alone are predicted to have a null response (less than a 2 log viral load decline by treatment week 12) to peginterferon alfa and ribavirin therapy.
  • Poorly interferon responsive patients who were treated with VICTRELIS in combination with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin have a lower likelihood of achieving a sustained virologic response (SVR), and a higher rate of detection of resistance-associated substitutions upon treatment failure, compared to patients with a greater response to peginterferon alfa and ribavirin

Important safety information about VICTRELIS

All contraindications to peginterferon alfa and ribavirin also apply since VICTRELIS must be administered with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin. Because ribavirin may cause birth defects and fetal death, VICTRELIS in combination with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin is contraindicated in pregnant women and in men whose female partners are pregnant. Avoid pregnancy in female patients and female partners of male patients. Patients must have a negative pregnancy test prior to therapy; have monthly pregnancy tests; and use two or more forms of effective contraception, including intrauterine devices and barrier methods, during treatment and for at least 6 months after treatment has concluded. Systemic hormonal contraceptives may not be as effective in women while taking VICTRELIS and concomitant ribavirin.

VICTRELIS is contraindicated in coadministration with drugs that are highly dependent on CYP3A4/5 for clearance, and for which elevated plasma concentrations are associated with serious and/or life-threatening events. VICTRELIS also is contraindicated in coadministration with potent CYP3A4/5 inducers where significantly reduced VICTRELIS plasma concentrations may be associated with reduced efficacy. Drugs that are contraindicated with VICTRELIS include: alfuzosin, carbamazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin, rifampin, dihydroergotamine, ergonovine, ergotamine, methylergonovine, cisapride, St. John's Wort (hypericum perforatum), lovastatin, simvastatin, drosperinone, Revatio® (sildenafil) or Adcirca® (tadalafil) (when used for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension), pimozide, triazolam, and orally administered midazolam.

Anemia and/or Neutropenia -- The addition of VICTRELIS to peginterferon alfa and ribavirin is associated with an additional decrease in hemoglobin concentrations compared to peginterferon alfa and ribavirin alone and/or may result in worsening of neutropenia associated with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin therapy alone. Dose reduction or discontinuation of peginterferon alfa and/or ribavirin may be required. Dose reduction of VICTRELIS is not recommended. VICTRELIS must not be administered in the absence of peginterferon alfa and ribavirin.

Complete blood counts (with white blood cell differential counts) must be conducted in all patients prior to initiating combination therapy with VICTRELIS. Complete blood counts should be obtained at treatment weeks 4, 8 and 12, and should be monitored closely at other time points, as clinically appropriate.

The most commonly reported adverse reactions (greater than 35 percent) in clinical trials in adult patients receiving the combination of VICTRELIS with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin were fatigue, anemia, nausea, headache and dysgeusia. Of these commonly reported adverse reactions, fatigue, anemia, nausea, and dysgeusia occurred at rates greater than or equal to 5 percent above the rates for peginterferon alfa and ribavirin alone in either clinical study. The incidence of these adverse reactions in previously untreated patients who were treated with combination therapy with VICTRELIS compared with peginterferon and ribavirin alone were: fatigue (58 vs. 59 percent), anemia (50 vs. 30 percent), nausea (46 vs. 42 percent) and dysgeusia (35 vs. 16 percent), respectively. The incidence of these adverse reactions in previous treatment-failure patients who were treated with combination therapy with VICTRELIS compared with peginterferon and ribavirin alone were: fatigue (55 vs. 50 percent), anemia (45 vs. 20 percent), nausea (43 vs. 38 percent) and dysgeusia (44 vs. 11 percent), respectively.

VICTRELIS is a strong inhibitor of CYP3A4/5 and is partly metabolized by CYP3A4/5. The potential for drug-drug interactions must be considered prior to and during therapy.

Please see U.S. prescribing information at: http://www.merck.com/product/usa/pi_circulars/v/victrelis/victrelis_pi.pdf.

Merck's global commitment to advancing hepatitis therapy

Merck is committed to building on its strong legacy in the field of viral hepatitis by continuing to discover, develop and deliver vaccines and medicines to help prevent and treat viral hepatitis. In hepatitis C, company researchers developed the first approved therapy for chronic HCV in 1991 and the first combination therapy in 1998. In addition to ongoing studies with VICTRELIS, extensive research efforts are underway to develop additional innovative oral therapies for viral hepatitis treatment.

About Merck

Today's Merck is a global healthcare 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 consumer care 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 healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For more information, visit www.merck.com and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Forward-Looking Statement

This news release includes "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements may include, but are not limited to, statements about the benefits of the merger between Merck and Schering-Plough, including future financial and operating results, the combined company's plans, objectives, expectations and intentions and other statements that are not historical facts. Such statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of Merck's management and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ from those set forth in the forward-looking statements.

The following factors, among others, could cause actual results to differ from those set forth in the forward-looking statements: the possibility that all of the expected synergies from the merger of Merck and Schering-Plough will not be realized, or will not be realized within the expected time period; the impact of pharmaceutical industry regulation and health care legislation in the United States and internationally; Merck's ability to accurately predict future market conditions; dependence on the effectiveness of Merck's patents and other protections for innovative products; and the exposure to litigation and/or regulatory actions.

Merck 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 Merck's 2011 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).

VICTRELIS™ is a trademark of Schering Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., Whitehouse Station, N.J., USA

Revatio® and Adcirca® are trademarks of their respective owners and are not trademarks of Merck & Co., Inc., Whitehouse Station, N.J., USA.

Please see Prescribing Information for VICTRELIS at http://www.merck.com/product/usa/pi_circulars/v/victrelis/victrelis_pi.pdf and Medication Guide for VICTRELIS at http://www.merck.com/product/usa/pi_circulars/v/victrelis/victrelis_mg.pdf.

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