Allergan to acquire exclusive worldwide rights to Merck’s CGRP migraine development programme

7 July 2015  •  Author: Victoria White

Allergan and Merck have entered into an agreement under which Allergan will acquire the exclusive worldwide rights to Merck’s investigational small molecule oral calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) receptor antagonists, which are being developed for the treatment and prevention of migraine.


Under the terms of the agreement, Allergan will acquire these rights for an upfront payment of $250 million, $125 million of which is payable upon HSR clearance and $125 million of which is payable in April of 2016. Merck will additionally be entitled to receive potential development and commercial milestone payments and tiered double-digit royalties based on commercialisation of the programmes. Allergan will be fully responsible for development of the CGRP programmes, as well as manufacturing and commercialisation upon approval and launch of the products. 

The agreement gives Allergan rights to two CGRP receptor antagonists:

  • MK-1602, an oral small molecule antagonist for the acute treatment of migraines
  • MK-8031, an oral small molecule antagonist for the prevention of migraines

In July 2011, Merck announced that it had discontinued clinical development of an earlier investigational oral CGRP antagonist, Telcagepant (MK-0974), after some patients showed evidence of liver toxicity. The MK-1602 and MK-8031 molecules belong to a different chemical series than Telcagepant, and in clinical trials to date have not shown evidence of liver toxicity. The potential of the CGRP antagonist mechanism has received validation from episodic and chronic migraine studies of injectable candidates in development.

Agreement helps position Allergan as a potential leader in the migraine treatment market

“The agreement to acquire exclusive worldwide rights to Merck’s CGRP migraine development programme builds on our existing strength in neurosciences and helps position Allergan as a potential leader in the acute treatment of migraine and prevention of migraine for millions of patients,” said David Nicholson, Executive Vice President, Global Brands Research and Development at Allergan.  “With two novel oral therapies in development for treating and preventing migraines, we have the opportunity to provide therapies that could alleviate an intensely debilitating and immobilising condition for patients worldwide. We look forward to supporting the continued development of these programmes and to potentially bringing these new therapies to market.”

“We are pleased that this agreement will enable Allergan to advance these promising molecules for the potential benefit of migraine sufferers, and that Merck will be able to continue to further focus our research and development resources on our priority therapeutic areas,” said Iain D. Dukes, Senior Vice President of Business Development & Licensing, Merck Research Laboratories.

Migraine is a common disorder of the brain and are characterised by attacks of intense, usually one-sided, throbbing head pain that can last from four to 72 hours. The pain associated with migraine is frequently accompanied by other symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, dizziness and increased sensitivity to light and sound.

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