Merck announces late-stage failure for ongoing pain trial

By Chris Felty

Merck & Co has seen its experimental painkiller oxycodone hydrochloride metoprolol ER fail a late-stage study in chronic back pain.

“This highly anticipated study revealed no benefit for an extended-release opioid like we have in the clinic,” said Samuel Bard, Merck’s chief medical officer.

“The study is not statistically significant. Based on this analysis, we do not plan to file the investigational new drug application in the first half of this year as previously communicated. The investigational new drug application will be submitted if there is a favorable assessment of safety in clinical trials.”

Covidopa hydrochloride, a muscarinic antagonist, is used to treat people with Parkinson’s disease and this is Merck’s only US anti-inflammatory experimental drug in late-stage development.

It is currently marketed for fibromyalgia. If properly maintained, it should be long-term therapy and has shown promising benefit in patients with pain problems.

Merck owns the active pharmaceutical ingredient but marketing partner Actavis is acting as the marketing partner and will report the results.

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