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!