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October 15, 2009 (Vol. 29, No. 18)

Merrion Strives to Turn IV Drugs into Tablets

Technology Acquired from Elan Enables Company to Convert Intravenous Drugs to Oral Formulations

  • Oral Diabetes Drugs

    In November 2008, Merrion teamed up with Novo Nordisk to develop and commercialize oral formulations of Novo Nordisk’s insulin analogues using the GIPET technology. “Oral insulin is considered the holy grail of drug-delivery technology,” says Lynch, who adds that Novo Nordisk was so pleased with the results achieved to date, that it is pursuing a tablet-based diabetes treatment on a large scale.

    “Many people are skeptical about oral insulin, because people have worked on this for many years and no one has succeeded,” Lynch explains. He believes that an oral insulin formulation is within reach, based on the combination of Merrion’s technology that allows oral peptide drugs to be absorbed efficiently and Novo Nordisk’s expertise in engineering insulin. Additionally, both companies agreed to work together earlier this year to develop and market oral formulations of Novo Nordisk’s GLP-1 agonists.

    Other drugs in Merrion’s pipeline include Almerol, an oral bisphosphonate for the treatment of osteoporosis. Almerol has completed Phase II trials. The GIPET technology, Lynch says, provides similar absorption, but at just 8% of the dose, compared to current formulations, thereby improving side effects and simplifying dosing.

    Acyline, an oral drug for prostate cancer, is in Phase I trials. If successful, acyline will be the first oral product in the area of gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogs, Lynch reports. In preclinical testing is MER 102, an oral anticoagulant that could replace daily injections. “We’re encouraged by what we have accomplished to date. As we move forward, our technology is proving to be applicable to many areas,” says Lynch.

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