Avanir to co-promote Merck’s diabetes drugs in the US

Merck & Co and Avanir Pharmaceuticals  have entered an agreement to co-promote Merck’s portfolio of sitagliptin-based diabetes products in the US.

The two medicines at the heart of the deal are type 2 diabetes treatment Januvia (sitagliptin), which made more than $4bn during 2012, and Janumet, which combines sitagliptin with metformin and made $1.6bn during 2012.

Under the agreement, Avanir will promote these products to healthcare professionals working in long-term care institutional setting, such as care homes. Merck will remain responsible for the marketing of Januvia and Janumet in other settings.

The deal is set to commence from October 2013, with Merck to pay Avanir an undisclosed fixed fee plus incentive-based payment.

It marks something a departure for Avanir, which has so far focused on disorders of the central nervous system through its own drug Nuedexta.

Through this, the company has built up sales force experience in care homes, however, and Merck is looking to utilise this resource as the ageing population continues to grow and diabetes gains more prevalence in this setting.

“We believe that combining Merck’s leadership in diabetes with Avanir’s unique capabilities will help this growing population get the diabetes care they need,” said Peter Alberti, US marketing leader for diabetes, Merck.

Rohan Palekar, chief commercial officer at Avanir, confirmed Merck’s ambitions in the area.

“Our sales force is well established within the institutional setting and should be able to expand the adoption of Merck’s diabetes therapies based on their deep understanding of the treatment needs of these physician and patient populations,” he said.

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