May 19, 2014

Merck elects not to develop Chimerix's HIV drug

Merck has opted out of developing an HIV drug from Chimerix. The small Durham drug developer had sold Merck exclusive rights 2 years ago with a potential $151 million payoff, which won't happen now.

Global drug developer Merck has opted out of developing and commercializing an HIV drug it acquired two years ago from Durham-based Chimerix, costing the 54-employee Triangle company up to $151 million in potential revenue.

Chimerix did not explain Merck’s reasons for returning the oral antiviral, CMX157, but the Durham company said it is not planning to commit resources to developing the HIV drug.

Merck, known as MSD outside the United States, had signed a licensing agreement in 2012 for exclusive worldwide rights to develop and market CMX157. The deal netted Chimerix an upfront payment of $17.5 million and promised future milestone payments as well as royalties on future sales.

Chimerix is focused on the development of brincidofovir for the prevention and treatment of adenovirus infections with compromised immuse systems.

Adenovirus causes the common cold in healthy people but can be fatal to patients with compromised immune systems. Brincidofovir attacks potent viruses without the toxic side effects of cidofovir, the primary medication in use today.

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