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Merck pauses 2 more trials of backbone HIV drug over red flag, raising doubts about multipronged R&D strategy

December 7, 2021

Are the foundations of Merck’s broad HIV development program crumbling? Having already paused combination work in response to a red flag, Merck has now temporarily stopped enrollment in phase 3 studies that are testing the backbone of its HIV strategy as a monotherapy.

News of trouble at Merck emerged last month when the company paused development of an asset, MK-8507, that was central to its plans to create an oral, once-weekly treatment for HIV patients. The action followed the discovery of falls in total lymphocyte and CD4+ T-cell counts in patients who took MK-8507 in combination with backbone therapy islatravir.

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