Issue Date: March 26, 2012
AstraZeneca, Merck Drop Drug Candidates
AstraZeneca and Targacept have dropped development of the antidepressant TC-5214 after it failed to improve depression in a Phase III study. Since learning of the trial results, Targacept has been evaluating the drug’s future. The company has more than $225 million in cash on hand and a pipeline of compounds in Phase II trials. Separately, Merck & Co. has ended development of an oral formulation of vernakalant, for the prevention of atrial fibrillation, because of regulatory challenges. Cardiome Pharma, from which Merck licensed the drug, will conserve cash by cutting annual spending in half.
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