Merck & Santen agree tafluprost global licensing

May 6, 2009

Merck & Co., Inc. and Santen Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., have agreed a worldwide licensing agreement for tafluprost, a prostaglandin analogue under investigation in the US.

Merck & Co., Inc. and Santen Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., have agreed a worldwide licensing agreement for tafluprost, a prostaglandin analogue under investigation in the US. 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.

“This 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.”

“The licensing of tafluprost from Santen, a company with extensive experience in ophthalmics, further expands Merck's strong portfolio of topical treatments in ophthalmology,” said Vlad Hogenhuis, M.D., senior vice president and general manager, neuroscience and ophthalmology, Merck.