WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J., April 15, 2009 - Merck & Co., Inc. and Santen Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. today announced a worldwide licensing agreement for tafluprost, a prostaglandin analogue under investigation in the U.S. Tafluprost, preserved and preservative-free formulations, has received marketing approval for the reduction of elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) in open-angle glaucoma and ocular hypertension in several European and Nordic countries as well as Japan, and has been filed for approval in additional European and Asia Pacific markets.
Under the terms of the agreement, Merck will pay an undisclosed fee as well as milestones and royalty payments based on future sales of tafluprost (both preserved and preservative-free formulations) in exchange for exclusive commercial rights to tafluprost in Western Europe (excluding Germany), North America, South America and Africa. Santen will retain commercial rights to tafluprost in most countries in Eastern Europe, Northern Europe and Asia Pacific, including Japan. Merck will provide promotion support to Santen in Germany and Poland. If tafluprost is approved in the U.S., Santen has an option to co-promote it there.
|“Today’s announcement is an important milestone in the development and commercialization of tafluprost,” said Akira Kurokawa, president and CEO of Santen Ltd. “Through this licensing agreement with Merck, we are well positioned to significantly expand our access to additional markets.”|
Tafluprost, preserved and preservative-free formulations, belongs to the prostaglandin class for the reduction of elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) in open-angle glaucoma and ocular hypertension. Tafluprost has been approved in 11 countries, and it is marketed under the trademark of TAFLOTAN™ in Germany, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway. In Japan, it is marketed under the trademark of TAPROS™. The compound remains under investigation in the U.S.
Glaucoma generally begins with a subtle loss of side vision (peripheral vision) and can progress to loss of central vision and blindness, as if you are looking through an increasingly narrow tube. It is a leading cause of preventable blindness and is often called “the sneak thief of sight” because it has no symptoms and causes no pain. As a result, as many as 50 percent of people may not know that they have the disease. Currently, more than 60 million people worldwide are affected by glaucoma.
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