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Merck has signed a non-exclusive agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb to carry out a Phase II trial evaluating combined investigational oral candidates MK-5172 and Daclatasvir to treat chronic Hepatitis C.

The investigational, orally available HCV NS3/4A protease inhibitor, MK-5172, is being evaluated in combination with other approved and investigational medications in the Phase II trials.

Merck Research Laboratories infectious diseases project leadership and management vice president Dr Eliav Barr said the potential of novel oral HCV regimens early in the development cycle can be evaluated through agreements that combine novel investigational candidates.

"We are pleased to collaborate with Bristol-Myers Squibb to advance this potential all-oral combination," Barr said.

The study is designed to assess the safety and efficacy profile of a once-daily oral combination regimen comprising Bristol-Myers’ investigational NS5A replication complex inhibitor, daclatasvir, and Merck’s investigational NS3/4A protease inhibitor, MK-5172.

Before the planned initiation of the Phase II trial, a Phase I safety evaluation of the investigational combination regimen is to be completed.

Under the deal, which does not cover clinical development activities beyond the Phase II study, Merck will conduct the Phase II trial.

Image: A Bristol-Myers Squibb R&D facility Princeton Rd, Princeton, New Jersey, US. Photo: Courtesy of Coolcaesar.