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NicOx Eyes Continued Comeback with Second Pfizer Deal

Executive Summary

In early March, Pfizer licensed all ophthalmic rights to NicOx's nitric-oxide donating technology platform, just months after selecting and licensing a preclinical glaucoma candidate from the firms' previous, more narrow, collaboration. The moves have buoyed NicOx, which has been in the investor doghouse since 2003 when AstraZeneca chose to discontinue development of the firm's lead product, which was in Phase II trials for osteoarthritis pain.

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Merck's Deal Focus

Merck & Co. Inc.'s recovery drive involves changing every aspect of its business, and doing so urgently. That urgency applies to partnering, too: In March 2006, the giant announced three new deals, one with NicOx on a series of anti-hypertension compounds, one with Neuromed in pain and the third with Paratek Pharmaceuticals Inc. for a Phase I antibiotic. They mark a shift at Merck towards more clinical stage dealmaking.

Merck's Deal Focus

Merck & Co. Inc.'s recovery drive involves changing every aspect of its business, and doing so urgently. That urgency applies to partnering, too: In March 2006, the giant announced three new deals, one with NicOx on a series of anti-hypertension compounds, one with Neuromed in pain and the third with Paratek Pharmaceuticals Inc. for a Phase I antibiotic. They mark a shift at Merck towards more clinical stage dealmaking.

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While reformulating existing drugs can sometimes look like a low risk opportunity, since active substances are already deemed safe and effective, the task is often more complex. The race to develop extended release versions of the now-generic opioid tramadol showcase these technological, clinical and regulatory challenges, while demonstrating that for those who succeed, the upside can be great. A look at Pudue's deal with Labopharm and JNJ's deal with Biovail.

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