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Novartis Out, Merck In, a Win for Vertex's Aurora Kinase Program

Executive Summary

Earlier this year, Vertex and Novartis reworked their 2000 deal covering R&D of drugs against kinases. The shift has already proved consequential. Vertex had yet to present a compound to Novartis: the original arrangement called for Vertex to conduct all R&D through early clinical proof of concept and the most advanced molecule, VX-680, was just at IND filing. With Novartis unwilling to decide on VX-680 before seeing clinical data, as part of the renegotiation Vertex was able to regain control of the compound then license it to Merck. For that compound, at least, Vertex got from Merck what it couldn't get from Novartis: significant value and an earlier handoff of an asset.

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