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Merrion Pharmaceuticals bids to attract €52m investment for products

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The researchers called for interventions involving patients, prescribers and pharmacists to improve the use of these drugs

The researchers called for interventions involving patients, prescribers and pharmacists to improve the use of these drugs

The researchers called for interventions involving patients, prescribers and pharmacists to improve the use of these drugs

Dublin-listed Merrion Pharmaceuticals is trying to attract $65m (€52m) of investment to help get two of its products through the final stages of the licensing process.

The company specialises in making tablet versions of drugs that are normally taken as infusions.

The products it's seeking to have licensed are tablet versions of a drug that tackles bone-weakening in late-stage cancer sufferers, and is also used to delay the recurrence of tumours in early-stage breast-cancer patients.

The European Medicines Agency has agreed to allow Merrion carry out a study on 300 patients that, if successful, would allow the drug focusing on late-stage sufferers to be sold in Europe within three years. Merrion estimates the cost of that study to be $15m (€12m).

In the United States the Food and Drug Agency have agreed to allow the company test the tablet focusing on early-stage breast cancer on 600 patients.

If that trial proves successful the drug would be able to be sold worldwide within five years.

The company has carried out three early clinical studies that allowed them to reach this point with the two licensing bodies.

It estimates the drugs could deliver $300m of sales revenue per annum.

Merrion's oral insulin for diabetes is currently being trialled by Danish multinational Novo Nordisk.

"The issue with the infusion is that clearly you're taking up infusion chairs from patients who would otherwise potentially be receiving chemotherapeutics," chief executive John Fox told the Irish Independent.

He said Merrion is looking to partner up with a licensee or a venture capital firm to bring the drugs to market.

The company underwent significant restructuring after running into financial difficulties in 2011.

It ended up closing its research and development operations to focus on the Novo Nordisk licences. But promising clinical data and conversations with the regulatory authorities led the company to bring Dr Fox in as chief executive in January to try and bring the technology forward.

Merrion shares currently trade at 39 cents apiece on the Irish Stock Exchange's ESM index, having previously tipped over €5.

Irish Independent