Baxter to collaborate on pancreatic cancer drug

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Merrimack Pharmaceuticals Inc. said it could receive more than $900 million through a collaboration with Deerfield-based Baxter International Inc. over its potential pancreatic cancer treatment.

Baxter will pay $100 million to Merrimack upfront and then an additional $400 million in milestone payments tied to whether the Merrimack drug, labeled MM-398, receives approval for a couple ofindications treating pancreatic cancer. It also could receive an additional $220 million if approved for additional uses, $250 million in sales milestones, and royalties. In return, Baxter gains rights to the treatment outside the United States and Taiwan.

Merrimack, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, plans to seek Food and Drug Administration approval later this year for MM-398, which aims to treat patients with pancreatic cancer that has spread and who have tried other treatments. Baxter expects to seek approval outside the United States starting next year.

Merrimack said in May that patients who received the drug and a chemotherapy regimen in a late-stage clinical study lived an average of 6.1 months after treatment. Patients who were given just the chemotherapy regimen lived 4.2 months on average. Merrimack has said its formulation of the drug is designed to stay in the bloodstream longer, allowing it to more effectively build up in tumors while sparing other cells.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly forms of cancer because it is often not caught until it has spread to other parts of the body.

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