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Merck and Pfizer will collaborate on the clinical development and commercialisation of ertugliflozin, an investigational oral sodium glucose cotransporter (SGLT2) inhibitor being evaluated for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

The agreement also includes the development and commercialisation of ertugliflozin-containing fixed-dose combinations with metformin and Januvia (sitagliptin) tablets.

Pfizer primary care president and general manager John Young said; "Through this collaboration, we believe we can build on Merck’s leadership position in diabetes care with the introduction of ertugliflozin, an innovative SGLT2 inhibitor discovered by Pfizer scientists."

Ertugliflozin, which was developed by Pfizer, is Phase III ready, with trials planned for later this year.

The rights to Merck’s existing portfolio of sitagliptin-containing products will be retained by the company.

Pfizer has earned upfront payment and milestones of $60m and is eligible for additional payments based on pre-specified future clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones.

Potential revenues and certain costs will be shared by Merck and Pfizer on a 60% / 40% basis.

Merck Research Laboratories senior vice president and diabetes and endocrinology franchise head Nancy Thornberry said; "We believe ertugliflozin has the potential to complement our strong portfolio of investigational and marketed products, and we look forward to collaborating with Pfizer on its development.".

Image: Merck and Pfizer will co-develop Ertugliflozin investigational medicine for type 2 diabetes. Photo: Courtesy of Jim Henderson.