Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rights To Ex-CEO Hassan's "Third Star" Dumped Off -- Outside US

Back at its R&D Day in late 2008, and well into the Spring of 2009, Schering-Plough's then CEO Fast Fred Hassan was calling asenapine, branded as Saphris®, the third of his "five stars". Ahem.

This morning, New Merck has off-loaded all the worldwide rights to sell it (save only the US, China and Japan). With sales in these latter three markets at a little over $140 million per quarter, Saphris is -- by most accounts -- a big disappointment to Merck. So it has taken some upfront cash from Lundbeck, and bolted. Especially so, in view of the drug's side-effect profile (and thus, potential liability concerns).

Salmon will swim by shortly, I am sure, to remind us of what was long-known: this drug was always going to be a "me-too" player in the atypical anti-psychotic space. Now New Merck has confirmed it, in words, and more importantly -- in deed:

. . . .Under the terms of the agreement, Lundbeck will pay an undisclosed fee as well as product supply payments in exchange for exclusive commercial rights to Sycrest in all markets outside the United States, China and Japan. Lundbeck expects to launch Sycrest in the European Union (EU), where it is already approved, at the beginning of 2011. Merck will retain exclusive commercial rights to asenapine in the U.S., China and Japan. Merck has launched asenapine in the United States under the brand name Saphris® (asenapine) sublingual tablets (5 mg, 10 mg). . . .

This just became the latest addition to the summary table/list of Hassan Hangovers!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update. Where's the source information on the sales figures you provide.


Condor said...

Hey -- it is a guess -- based off of page 40 of the Q2 Merck Form 10-Q.

Saphris would likely be listed separately, if it had cleared the $100 million hurdle in Q2. "All other pharmaceuticals" is around $167 million, so we know Saphris was well under that.

I am being generous in assuming it will break $120 million in the US.

It may not break $100 million for the year 2010. This compares to Hassan's "Asenapine will revolutionize anti-schizophrenia treatments" rhetoric in late 2008. I guess in his lexicon, that is intended to mean won't sell very well.

Namaste -- gotta' bolt now. . .

Anonymous said...

what were the 5 stars?

condor said...

Not certain, but I think Hassan was still listing Bridion (since rejected by FDA), or sugammadex, the chemical name -- as one of his five stars. . .

So maybe, at least of Q4 2008, your list should substitute Bridion in place of MFF.

I confess that I should rememer this, but. . . I don't.


Anonymous said...

Maybe Fred meant something else.

Possibility 1 - It will show how you can take an absolute dog and use it to sell a company and personally pocket more money than the purchaser will make from it in the next 5 years.

Possibility 2 - When the toxicities and efficacy problems are generally realized. The realization that they are class issues will totally alter the sales dynamics in a negative way.