Friday, May 22, 2009

Notes from BIO: Merck's Take on Biomarker-Based Drug Development

Merck sees itself as a leader in biomarker-based drug development. "We are toward the extreme end" of peer companies in the field, Executive Director of Licensing & External Research Reid Leonard said during a BIO breakout session May 19.

"We actually have very aggressive internal goals for the requirements for a biomarker strategy that is coincidentally built up with the drug discovery strategy for any new target."

But before you put Merck down as an advocate of personalized medicine, listen to how he described the company's approach:
"Ultimately our goal, despite the overall objective of being able to stratify patients where its appropriate and necessary, given the choice, if we are going to find a therapy that will treat a disease that many people will have, our preference is to find a way of doing that that in fact doesn't require stratification, that in fact picks a target that is intrinsically less sensitive to genetic variation than another target. So its using all the same data to try to essentially come up with a drug that in fact the physician can have some confidence will work in 80% of the people."
It's not that Merck will ignore stratification if it appears appropriate in clinical trials. That's just not the goal.

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