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Cardiome Says Merck Is Dropping Support of Oral Version of Heart Drug Treatment

From Canadian Press DataFile (March 19, 2012)

VANCOUVER -- Shares in Drug Developer Cardiome Pharma Corp. Dropped 53 Per Cent After the Company announced Monday that pharmaceutical company Merck will no longer support the development of its oral heart medication vernakalant.

Shares in Cardiome (TSX:COM) dropped $1.01, to 90 cents in morning trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Cardiome said that Merck cited the regulatory environment and projected timeline of the drug’s development for dropping its support.

The drug is used to treat irregular heartbeat.

Cardiome said it will reduce its annual operating cash burn by about $11 million before interest as a result.

"It is our understanding that vernakalant oral has continued to have a safe and effective profile as demonstrated by studies conducted since the product was licensed to Merck," Cardiome president and chief executive officer Doug Janzen said in a news release.

"We are extremely disappointed with the decision Merck has made," he said. "However, we look forward to continuing to work with Merck on the worldwide development and commercialization of vernakalant IV."

Merck will continue to support the intravenous formulation of vernakalant, which is marketed in the European Union and Latin America under the trade name Brinavesstm, Cardiome said.



Posted: March 2012