Merck & Company
agreed on Thursday to pay a Swiss company, Addex Pharmaceuticals, as much as $702 million to help develop a new schizophrenia
Addex will get $22 million now and payments that may amount to $680 million, the company said Thursday in an e-mailed statement.
Merck, which entered into an agreement with Addex last month to work on new treatments for Parkinson’s disease
, will gain access to an experimental medicine and other compounds that may be tested in additional unspecified conditions.
The project with Merck will focus on a brain-signal transmitter linked to functions like mood and motor control. About 1 in 100 people have schizophrenia, which causes hallucinations
and distorted thinking.
“We have now gained access to a promising drug candidate that potentially allows us to address an area of high medical importance where current therapies are clearly inadequate,” Darryle Schoepp, franchise head for neuroscience at Merck, said in the statement.
Under the agreement, Addex will get as much as $455 million in milestone payments for the first product developed for two conditions and as much as $225 million for a second medicine developed for two ailments.
The Swiss company will also get royalty payments on any sales of the products.
Addex, which in May had the biggest initial public offering by a Swiss drug maker in three years, has an option to jointly market the medicines with Merck in certain European countries.