Merck reaches to Australia (again) for licensing deal

In this Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013 photo, Merck scientist Meizhen Feng conducts research to discover new HIV drugs in West Point, Pa. Merck reports quarterly earnings on Tuesday, July 30, 3013. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Merck's efforts to re-organize and re-energize itself to boost production of profitable medicine has included more licensing deals with smaller companies.

Tuesday brought another deal with Bionomics, an Australian company that has worked with Merck previously and will now work on the hunt for medicine for Alzheimer's disease.

According to the Bionomics, and as noted in the Pharma Letter, Merck will pay for all research and development, including clinical development, and will be responsible for worldwide commercialization of any products from the collaboration.

Bionomics gets $20 million upfront and could receive up to $506 million for achievement of certain research and clinical development milestones and undisclosed royalties on any product sales. The Bionomics statement is here.

“We are very excited to work with Merck to progress new therapies for cognitive impairment in conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease,” Bionomics chief executive officer Deborah Rathjen said in a statement. “We believe that the combination of Bionomics’ innovative approach and technologies,within its ionX platform, has the potential to rapidly advance new treatments.”

Last year, the two companies struck a licensing deal to develop small molecule candidates for the treatment of chronic pain, including neuropathic pain.

Merck is based in Whitehouse Station, N.J., but has big operations in Montgomery County.