Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accepted for priority review the New Drug Application (NDA) for vericiguat, an orally administered soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC) stimulator, to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death and heart failure hospitalization following a worsening heart failure event in patients with symptomatic chronic heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF), in combination with other heart failure therapies. The FDA has set a Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA), or target action date, of Jan. 20, 2021. Vericiguat is being jointly developed with Bayer AG.
“This submission builds on Merck’s commitment to patients with cardiovascular disease and long legacy of advancing cardiovascular research to meet unmet medical needs,” said Dr. Roy Baynes, senior vice president and head of global clinical development, chief medical officer, Merck Research Laboratories. “We look forward to working with the FDA as they review this New Drug Application for vericiguat.”
The application is based on results from the Phase 3 VICTORIA trial, which is the first contemporary outcomes study focused exclusively on a population with worsening chronic heart failure who are at high risk for cardiovascular mortality and repeated heart failure hospitalizations. Data from VICTORIA were presented at the virtual American College of Cardiology’s 69th Annual Scientific Session together with World Congress of Cardiology (ACC.20/WCC) and published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
About the VICTORIA Trial
VICTORIA (NCT02861534) is a randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, multi-center, double-blind, Phase 3 study of vericiguat versus placebo when given in combination with available heart failure therapies in patients with worsening chronic heart failure (New York Heart Association class II-IV), a reduced left ventricular ejection fraction of <45% within 12 months prior to randomization following a decompensation event. The primary endpoint of the study was the composite of time to first occurrence of heart failure hospitalization or cardiovascular death. Secondary endpoints included time to occurrence of cardiovascular death, time to first occurrence of heart failure hospitalization, time to total heart failure hospitalizations (including first and recurrent events), time to the composite of all-cause mortality or heart failure hospitalization, and time to all-cause mortality.
The study enrolled a total of 5,050 patients who were randomly selected to receive either vericiguat once daily (titrated up to 10 mg) or placebo when given in combination with available heart failure therapies. The study was co-sponsored by Merck and Bayer, conducted under the scientific oversight of the Canadian VIGOUR Centre and the Duke Clinical Research Institute, and executed by Merck in more than 600 centers in 42 countries including in Europe, Japan, China and the U.S.
About Heart Failure with Reduced Ejection Fraction
HFrEF, formerly known as systolic heart failure, is characterized by the compromised ability of the heart to eject blood sufficiently during its contraction phase. In the U.S., 6.5 million people have heart failure, and approximately 40-50% of these patients have HFrEF. Annually, approximately 30% of patients with symptomatic chronic heart failure will experience worsening of the disease, which is marked by progressive symptoms and/or a recent heart failure event. Approximately half of patients with worsening chronic HFrEF are rehospitalized within 30 days of a worsening event, and an estimated one in five patients with worsening chronic HFrEF will die within two years.
About the Worldwide Collaboration Between Bayer and Merck
Since October 2014, Bayer and Merck (known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada) have pursued a worldwide collaboration in the field of sGC modulators. The collaboration brings together two leading companies that have stated their intent to fully evaluate this therapeutic class in areas of unmet medical need. The vericiguat program is being co-developed by Bayer and Merck.
For more than 125 years, Merck, known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases in pursuit of our mission to save and improve lives. We demonstrate our commitment to patients and population health by increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. Today, Merck continues to be at the forefront of research to prevent and treat diseases that threaten people and animals – including cancer, infectious diseases such as HIV and Ebola, and emerging animal diseases – as we aspire to be the premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical company in the world. For more information, visit www.merck.com and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.
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Pamela Eisele, (267) 305-3558
Elizabeth Sell, (267) 305-3877