Back in July of 2010, Merck’s R&D sub acquired some developmental dengue vaccine tech out of this company, while it was reorganizing under the protection of the federal bankruptdy laws. Then, in November of 2011, likely as part of the rationalization of MRL’s R&D efforts, Merck returned some previously-acquired tick-borne encephalitis vaccine tech to Hawaii BioTech.
Yesterday, local Hawiian papers reported that the company had acquired (or re-acquired?) more vaccine patents from a Merck subsidiary — including patents related to producing a West Nile Virus vaccine. Of course, the financial terms weren’t disclosed, which means that they are definitively tiny, as to Merck, at least.
It is interesting though, that Merck is apparently scaling back in these arenas. I would hazard a guess that these three vaccines (primarily sold in the developing world) will not ultimately be high-enough gross margin products, to clear New Merck’s hurdle rates. And Hawaii is deep into this tech already — so it can survive on much thinner margins that mother Merck might require/command.
In any event, here is a bit of the local report — do go read it all:
. . . .Hawaii Biotech, Inc. said Thursday that it has acquired a patent family to West Nile virus vaccine technology from Merck & Co. that will allow the Aiea-based biotech company to continue develop its own vaccine for the virus. . . .
We will keep an eye on Merck’s developing world vaccine program — but Whitehouse Station has earned vast legacy reputational and “good karma” credit for providing perhaps $4 billion worth of river blindness tablets to Latin America and Africa over the past two decades — essentially free of charge.
Let’s not forget that.