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Merck Serono Announces Exclusive License Agreement with Auxogyn for Eeva® Test

  • Merck Serono will receive commercialization rights from Auxogyn for the Eeva Test, which is designed to provide objective embryo viability data to IVF clinicians
  • Agreement reflects Merck Serono’s and Auxogyn’s commitment to bringing innovative technologies to the IVF community designed to help improve patient outcomes

Darmstadt, Germany, April 3, 2014
Merck Serono, the biopharmaceutical division of Merck, today announced an exclusive license agreement with Auxogyn, Inc., Menlo Park, California, USA, a company dedicated to advancing women’s reproductive health, for Auxogyn’s proprietary Early Embryo Viability Assessment (Eeva®) Test.

Early Embryo Viability Assessment (Eeva®) Test

Early Embryo Viability Assessment (Eeva®) Test

The Eeva Test is a non-invasive diagnostic test used adjunctively to traditional morphology. It utilizes time-lapse imaging and computer software to analyze embryo development, creating lab-based measurements that provide reproductive endocrinologists and embryologists with objective information which can help to assess embryo development and viability. The Eeva Test results deliver objective information that may assist clinicians in improving IVF (in vitro fertilization) patient outcomes.

“This new agreement further underscores our commitment as a leader in fertility treatment to develop innovative science, medicines and technologies that have the power to improve outcomes for patients throughout the in vitro fertilization process. The Eeva Test can make the difference for the patient, as it can help to objectively identify the embryos with the highest implantation potential,” said Dorothea Wenzel, Head of the Global Business Franchise Fertility at Merck Serono.

“We are excited to further expand our relationship with Merck Serono,” said Lissa Goldenstein, President and Chief Executive Officer of Auxogyn.“With this licensing agreement, Merck’s established commercial expertise will accelerate the availability of the Eeva Test in key international markets and Auxogyn’s innovative test will continue to provide in vitro fertilization clinicians with valuable information that may improve patient outcomes. Most importantly, working together increases our collective ability to enhance outcomes and the chances of having a baby.”

This agreement is a strong reflection of both companies’ commitment to providing clinicians with innovative new technologies that have the potential to benefit patients dealing with fertility issues. Financial details of the agreement are not being disclosed. Under the terms of the agreement, Merck Serono will obtain exclusive rights to commercialize the Eeva Test in Europe and Canada, with the option to extend to selected countries and regions.

The license agreement builds on a successful relationship between the companies that was started in 2010 when Merck Serono initially invested in Auxogyn through a Series A Preferred Stock financing made by Merck Serono’s corporate venture capital fund, MS Ventures. In 2012, Merck Serono and Auxogyn announced a strategic partnership on the Eeva Test.

Dr. Susan Herbert, Executive Vice President, Global Business Development and Strategy for Merck Serono commented: “This agreement is strong validation for our strategy with MS Ventures to invest at an early stage in companies that develop next generation technologies and products that may improve patient outcomes in therapeutic fields that are relevant to Merck Serono.“

Auxogyn received the CE mark for the Eeva System in 2012, and it is currently available for use in certain countries in the European Union and Canada. In the United States, where Auxogyn retains commercialization rights, Auxogyn has filed a submission with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the clearance of the Eeva System, and this application is currently under review by the FDA.

According to the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), approximately five million additional babies have been born worldwide as a result of assisted reproduction technologies (ART) like IVF since 1978.1 This trend is increasing due to advancements in ART and IVF technologies such as the Eeva Test.

Merck_Serono_Auxogyn

References
1. European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. (2012). The world’s number of IVF and ICSI babies has now reached a calculated total of 5 million [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.eshre.eu/Press-Room/Press-releases/Press-releases-ESHRE-2012/5-million-babies.aspx

About Auxogyn
Auxogyn is revolutionizing the field of reproductive medicine by translating scientific discoveries in early embryo development into clinical tools. The company’s flagship product, the Eeva Test, delivers consistent, objective and quantitative information regarding embryo viability that IVF clinicians and infertility patients can use to make important treatment decisions. Auxogyn is privately held and funded by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, MS Ventures, SR One and TPG Biotech.
For more information regarding Auxogyn, please visit http://www.auxogyn.com

About Eeva
Auxogyn’s non-invasive early embryo viability assessment (Eeva) Test when used adjunctively to traditional morphology may improve IVF outcomes by providing IVF clinicians and patients with objective information on embryo viability. The Eeva System utilizes proprietary software that automatically analyzes embryo development against scientifically and clinically validated cell-division timing parameters. With Eeva’s quantitative data on each embryo’s potential development, IVF clinicians can optimize the treatment path for their patients undergoing IVF procedures.
Auxogyn received CE mark for Eeva in July 2012, and it is currently available for use in the select countries in the EU. In the United States, a 510(k) application for the Eeva System is currently under review by the FDA.
For more information regarding Eeva, please visit http://www.eevaivf.com

About MS Ventures
MS Ventures is the strategic corporate venture capital fund of Merck Serono, the biopharmaceutical division of Merck. The fund was established in March 2009 and focuses primarily on early stage investments. MS Ventures has a strategic mandate and invests in companies that develop products and/ or technologies that could benefit patients in therapeutic areas relevant to Merck Serono. MS Ventures has a total of € 140 million under management for strategic investments, investments through its Israel BioIncubator and for spin-offs from the Merck Serono organization.
For more information, please visit http://www.ms-ventures.com

About Merck Serono
Merck Serono is the biopharmaceutical division of Merck. With headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany, Merck Serono offers leading brands in 150 countries to help patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis, infertility, endocrine and metabolic disorders as well as cardiovascular diseases. In the United States and Canada, EMD Serono operates as a separately incorporated subsidiary of Merck Serono.
Merck Serono discovers, develops, manufactures and markets prescription medicines of both chemical and biological origin in specialist indications. We have an enduring commitment to deliver novel therapies in our core focus areas of neurology, oncology, immuno-oncology and immunology.
For more information, please visit http://www.merckserono.com

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2014 in Industry

 

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Merck Starts Diabetes Drive in Uganda

The world’s oldest pharmaceutical company, Merck, has partnered with the ministry of Health and Makerere University in a bid to tame diabetes, which affects some two million Ugandans.

The Merck Capacity Advancement programme was launched at Kalagala health centre IV in Luweero last week. Merck Chief Administration Officer Kai Beckmann said that over five years, they would support research on diabetes, and training of 9,000 medical students from Uganda and other sub-Saharan African countries.

They will also raise awareness on diabetes through sending text messages particularly to rural people.

Launching the programme, Dr Sarah Opendi, the state minister for Health, said diabetes was a very deadly non-communicable disease that needed to be managed to save lives.

Source: http://allafrica.com/stories/201403210160.html

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2014 in Industry

 

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‘Agility and Flexibility are Key Company Attributes to Attract Talent’ – Dietmar Eidens, Merck Serono

'Agility and flexibility are key company attributes to attract talent' - Dietmar Eidens, Executive Vice President, Group Human Resources, HR Business Partners Pharmaceuticals, Member of the Merck Serono Pharmaceutical Executive Committee

‘Agility and flexibility are key company attributes to attract talent’ – Dietmar Eidens, Executive Vice President, Group Human Resources, HR Business Partners Pharmaceuticals, Member of the Merck Serono Pharmaceutical Executive Committee

Dietmar Eidens, Executive Vice President, Head of Human Resources, Merck speaks to Viveka Roychowdhury on the HR challenges faced by the global pharmaceutical industry, the evolution of job profiles and shares his top three recommendations for making the industry become an ‘employer of choice’

Given the current business scenario what are the most serious challenges that the global pharmaceutical industry faces today, in terms of getting the right people?

The current work force dynamics in the global pharma industry throws up two challenges: How can we continue to attract expertise, particularly in specialist functions such as R&D, and secondly, how do we engage and retain them.

In addition to these main concerns, there are regional issues. The European Union will have different challenges from North America and emerging markets. In many countries of the EU qualified people outnumber the number of vacancies as the EU pharma market is under pressure. Conversely, emerging markets are in a growth phase so employment opportunities are there but the challenge is to find enough qualified candidates. Agility and flexibility are key company attributes to attract talent in these markets.

Mergers and acquisitions that are so common in today’s scenario also contribute to changing organisations’ game plans and creating skill gaps in talent pools. In addition, the pharma industry is not seen as progressive as other industries, for instance the IT or high-tech industry.

As Executive Vice President, Human Resources, Merck Serono what are some of the trends you see in the evolution of job profiles in the pharma industry?

The nature of many traditional roles in the pharma business is changing. For example, Medical Representatives (MRs) today need to be up-to-date with very specialised medical information as they are dealing with specialists rather than general practitioners. Increasing competition and the “fight for time with the doctor” leads to the need for innovative sales approaches.

A good example of this is what we have piloted successfully at Merck Serono last year: broadband SMS communication with doctors. IT does not replace the MR, but builds the foundation for a different relationship. Thus the technological approach loaded with information leads to a more targeted visit. The webinar is the use of technology at its best as we are empowering doctors and other decision makers by providing information in a targeted way. This allows the doctor to invest time with the patient and puts the effort where it is needed the most.

Again, flexibility is key – we will continue to hire the standard MR profile as well as a cadre of specialised sales consultants for specific products in specific disease areas. Consequently, the sources from which we hire these employees are very different.

A country like India is an ‘employee-driven market’ – there is high demand for employees with specific skills and customer interaction skills. Candidates and employees alike today are more aware and better-educated, demand empowerment and career opportunities. Along with changing lifestyles this has made balancing work and life more complex for employers as the offerings that need to be provided are diverse and flexible than even 10 years ago.

How do you keep up with these changes and what is HR’s role to keep pace?

This very much depends on the type of position you target and the type of country you are operating in. Pharma is an industry with many specialist roles that require specialist profiles, such as in R&D. For these, you will go to academic institutions or the competition to find what you are looking for. There is no difference between mature and emerging markets. It also applies to the fact that, generally speaking, scientists and researchers in the R&D function often have different interests and drivers from employees in the sales and marketing functions. This is driven by the different nature of work they are expected to do. These factors mean that employees in these areas define organisational culture and job satisfaction differently. As an employer, we must meet the different demands equally well to ensure retention of these key employees.

HR’s role is to stay close to the changing demographics of the workforce and to ensure the company provides the right instruments for attracting, selecting, rewarding and retaining these talents. HR needs to work closely with the business and demonstrate agility and flexibility in working with the business leaders on successful talent management.

How has your company engaged with the Gen Y workforce?

We have achieved this in a number of different ways. First, we have adjusted our EVP (Employer Value Proposition). Based on our Merck values*, we have defined more clearly what we stand for and modernised the way how this is communicated internally and externally.

Second, we have launched specific development programmes to engage the GenY workforce and build the leadership pipeline by enhancing diversity within our talent pool. These programmes are targeted at providing accelerated career paths and enriching employee development by fast-track company-internal education.

Third, we develop Gen Y employees primarily through exposure and experience, rather than formal education and training programmes. This is based on our belief that practical work experience combined with exposure to senior leaders and challenging assignments provides the best framework for job satisfaction and good performance, not only for Gen Y employees, but especially for them.

What are your top three recommendations for making the pharma industry (globally and in India) become an ‘employer of choice’?
I believe that the top three priorities for making the pharma industry an ‘employer of choice’ are: Career progression: providing diverse opportunities where an employee benefits from having an exposure to varied experiences to support her/ his career, Quality of life and content of work: being flexible and attuned to the pulse of the employee Opportunity for learning: to evolve and flourish both personally and on the professional front as well.
(*Merck Values:http://www.merckgroup.com/en/company/mission_statement_values_strategy/values.html)
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The magazine can be viewed on: http://pharma.financialexpress.com/latest-issue/3377-february-16-28-2014

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2014 in Industry

 

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Top 10 Drugmakers in Emerging Markets

A few years ago, as the patent cliff neared and drugmakers were looking for new sources of revenue, market researchers were toting up growth prospects around the world. The answer, for both, was emerging markets. Drug spending would more or less stagnate in mature markets such as the United States and the European Union. But in the developing world, drug spending was just taking off.

emerging-markets-signLike miners rushing to California in the 1880s, drugmakers raced to capture their share of those markets. While cutting costs, shuttering facilities and laying off thousands in the U.S. and EU, pharma companies hired on in China, India, Mexico–to the point where laid-off sales reps joked about moving to Asia to find a pharma job.

Still, the promise of emerging markets is real. In reporting their recent financial results, several Big Pharma companies saw dismal U.S. sales propped up by growth in the developing world–even if that growth wasn’t as much as they wanted, or even expected.

Take a look at the Top 10 and let us know your opinions about their emerging markets strategies. We ranked the companies not by total sales in emerging markets but by the percentage of their total sales derived from developing countries. We found sales numbers and percentages in regulatory filings, annual reports, earnings-call transcripts, quarterly releases and in direct correspondence with the companies.

1. Bayer HealthCare
2. Sanofi
3. Merck, The Original (www.merckgroup.com)
4. GlaxoSmithKline
5. Novartis
6. Johnson & Johnson
7. Novo Nordisk
8. AstraZeneca
9. Pfizer
10. Roche

Read more: Top 10 Drugmakers in Emerging Markets – FiercePharma http://www.fiercepharma.com/special-reports/top-10-drugmakers-emerging-markets

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2014 in Industry

 

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Guide Your Heart to Health

heart-disease-prevention-tips-jpgHeart attacks are not limited to older people, young men in their prime are also at risk. How to protect your heart before problems strike.

In layman’s terms, a heart attack (or myocardial infarction) occurs when a build-up of plaque in the arteries causes the walls of the heart to rupture. The body then attempts to repair the damage through clotting, but a by- product of this process is that the clots actually block the free flow of blood to the muscles of the heart – resulting in a heart attack.

Following are the ways to keep your heart as healthy as possible:
- Have your cholesterol checked. Having a lipogram, which is a cholesterol fasting test, is best to get an adequate picture of your cholesterol levels.
- Stop smoking – better yet, do not start. The no 1 rule is not to smoke. After you quit smoking, your risk of suffering a heart attack decreases for each year you stay smoke-free.
- Check your waist circumference and BMI by dividing your weight by your height in cm2. Ideally you should have a BMI that is under 25 and your waist measurement should be less than 103cm.
- Engage in regular physical activity. Exercise at least three times a week. This need not be gym – just get out there and walk, run, cycle or swim.
- Watch out your diet.
- Have a full medical check-up at least once a year. As with everything else, prevention is better than cure, especially if you have a family history or fall into another risk group.
- Illicit drug-taking is a no-no. it may seem like no big deal to ‘just try it’ once, but drugs like cocaine and amphetamines (‘speed’) send the body into severe spasm, which can lead to a heart attack.
- Taking an aspirin each day is a good idea if you’re prone to clotting and it can be a life-saver for someone having a heart attack, as it prevents clots from forming.

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2014 in Industry

 

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Merck: Allergopharma plans to invest € 40 million in production facility

Reinbek, Germany, December 12, 2013 – The German pharmaceutical, chemical and life science company Merck broke ground today on a new production facility for its Allergopharma unit in Reinbek near Hamburg. The new facility, which is estimated to cost nearly € 40 million, will be used, among other things, to expand production to serve new markets such as China. In the two-story building, which will be constructed on the current Allergopharma premises, products for the diagnosis and treatment of type 1 allergies such as hay fever or allergic asthma are to be manufactured under ultrapure, sterile conditions. Completion of the building is scheduled for 2016.

“We want to fully exploit the potential of our business, whether in Emerging Markets or in rapidly growing and highly promising areas such as the global allergy market,” said Stefan Oschmann, Merck Executive Board member with responsibility for Pharmaceuticals, including the Allergopharma unit. “By offering a highly competitive product range, we want to continue to tap the global allergy market.”

AllergopharmaThe new building will have a surface area of more than 6,000 m2 and will contain cleanrooms for production, as well as plant engineering technology and offer space for further laboratory use as well as a visitors foyer. Initially, around 40 people will work in the new building.

“With this investment, which is largest in the history of Allergopharma, Merck is setting an important milestone to expand the Allergy business internationally and to secure the future of the Reinbek site,” said Uta Kemmerich-Keil, CEO of Allergopharma.

Ralph Müller-Beck, State Secretary of the German federal state of Schleswig-Holstein, who is pleased by the further expansion of pharmaceutical production site in Reinbek, said, “The construction of a new facility for aseptic production in Reinbek is an impressive show of commitment to this location. Allergopharma has a strong footprint in the growing market segment for allergy therapeutics, which is not only securing jobs, but also benefiting the entire region.“

Merck has been the largest shareholder in Allergopharma since its establishment more than 40 years ago, and in December 2012 acquired the outstanding interest in the specific immunotherapy (SIT) specialist.

The market for allergy therapies (excluding symptomatic treatments) is showing strong global growth. The high world-wide market growth expected by market researchers will be generated on the one hand by an increasing number of people with allergies, and on the other hand by increasing use of specific immunotherapy in many emerging markets. Global growth is estimated to be between 5% and 10% per year.

Allergopharma
Allergopharma was founded in 1969 by Hermal and Joachim Ganzer in Reinbek near Hamburg. Today the company has more than 450 employees, including 60 in research. Allergopharma was fully integrated into Merck Group of Darmstadt, Germany to form the Allergy business unit in 2013. Uta Kemmerich-Keil is the new CEO. By leveraging its expertise as a global company, Merck aims to expand its Allergy unit internationally, strengthen it in Europe as well as develop new products, and intends to invest significantly in this market segment. The Allergopharma success story is based primarily on hypoallergenic, high-dose products (allergoids) that can be used either preseasonally or perennially. Major benefits of subcutaneous specific immunotherapy (SCIT) that Allergopharma mainly offers are a close patient-doctor relationship, good patient compliance, good efficacy and a favorable cost-benefit ratio. Allergopharma is the global market leader in this field.

Allergen-specific immunotherapy (SIT), also known as hyposensitization or desensitization, allergy vaccination) is the only causal treatment for allergies to unavoidable allergens. Demanding and living up to the highest of quality standards and committed to ongoing allergy product improvement, Allergopharma has developed from a pharmaceutical company into an international leader in SIT research. As a leader in innovative recombinant (“bio-engineered”) allergens, Allergopharma is also ready for the future.
For more information please go to http://www.allergopharma.com

All Merck press releases are distributed via e-mail at the same time as they become available on the Merck website: Please go to http://www.merckgroup.com/subscribe to register online, change your selection or discontinue this service.

Merck is a leading pharmaceutical, chemical and life science company with total revenues of € 11.2 billion in 2012, a history that began in 1668, and a future shaped by approx. 39,000 employees in 66 countries. Its success is characterized by innovations from entrepreneurial employees. Merck’s operating activities come under the umbrella of Merck KGaA, in which the Merck family holds an approximately 70% interest and shareholders own the remaining approximately 30%. In 1917, the former U.S. subsidiary Merck & Co. was expropriated and has been an independent company ever since.

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2013 in Industry

 

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Merck Expands Global Headquarters in Darmstadt

  • Framework plan defines the basic architectural structures to boost the company’s innovative power and attractiveness
  • Construction of an innovation center and visitors’ center planned

Darmstadt, November 19, 2013 – Merck plans to further develop the Darmstadt site into a contemporary, attractive global headquarters in order to strengthen its innovative power and attractiveness. For this purpose, the pharmaceutical, chemical and life science company presented a framework plan that defines the required basic architectural structures. The plan is part of the Group-wide strategic “Fit for 2018″ growth program, which Merck has instituted to become more efficient and innovative. The size of the investment will be determined by the final scope of the overall project.

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2013 in Industry

 

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