(12th Feb 2003) Merck & Co., Inc. and MerLion Pharmaceuticals announce drug Discovery Alliance

WHITEHOUSE STATION, NEW JERSEY and SINGAPORE, February 12, 2003 -
Merck & Co., Inc., (NYSE:MRK) and MerLion Pharmaceuticals Pte. Ltd., a Singapore-based drug discovery company, today announced the signing of a research collaboration agreement to discover and develop novel drugs from natural sources.
Under the terms of the agreement, MerLion Pharmaceuticals will screen its extensive natural product collection using a wide range of assays provided by Merck. The progression of lead compounds through the pre-clinical and clinical stages of development will be undertaken by Merck, who will also be responsible for worldwide marketing of any products that may result from the alliance
MerLion Pharma will receive research and clinical milestone payments from Merck, together with royalties for any marketed products. MerLion will retain rights to selected drug discoveries that Merck does not select for development.
"Our alliance with MerLion Pharma allows Merck to access an outstanding diversity of naturally occurring chemistry and has the potential to provide drug candidates for treating a wide range of important diseases," said Bennett M. Shapiro, M.D., executive vice president for Worldwide Licensing and External Research at Merck.
“We are very pleased to be working with Merck, who have had such a successful history of discovering important drugs from natural sources,” said Dr. Tony Buss, CEO of MerLion Pharma. “The collaboration is a demonstration of the continuing value of natural product-based drug discovery and also to the credibility of MerLion Pharma’s high throughput screening and chemistry capabilities.”
MerLion Pharmaceuticals Pte. Ltd. (MerLion Pharma) is a privately held Singapore based company, focusing on the discovery and development of new drug candidates from natural sources. The company' s assets and capabilities include an outstanding natural product sample collection, advanced high throughput screening technology, assay development and medicinal chemistry capabilities.
MerLion Pharma collaborates with leading pharmaceutical companies and research institutes to identify and develop drug leads in a wide range of therapeutic areas. The company' s other current collaboration partners include Abbott Laboratories, Fujisawa Pharmaceutical, Genome Therapeutics, Johns Hopkins (Singapore), KuDOS Pharmaceuticals and the National Cancer Centre (Singapore). MerLion Pharma is also developing and commercializing lead compounds emerging from its own discovery programs. MerLion Pharma is staffed by over 60 employees and occupies 20,000 square feet of labs and offices in the Singapore Science Park.
MerLion Pharma’s news releases and other information are available on the company’s
Web site at www.merlionpharma.com.
Merck & Co., Inc. is a leading research-driven pharmaceutical products and services company. Merck discovers, manufactures and markets a broad range of innovative products to improve human and animal health, directly and through its joint ventures.