The Darmstadt-based pharmaceutical company Merck has discontinued two trials for its cancer drug Xevinapant, which has not yet been approved.

A phase III trial with Xevinapant in combination with platinum-based chemotherapy (CRT) in patients with head and neck cancer was discontinued because the primary objective of prolonging event-free survival was not expected to be achieved. In light of the data, Merck has also decided to end a Phase III trial of xevinapant in combination with radiotherapy in patients with head and neck cancer. Merck had secured exclusive rights to xevinapant from the Swiss company Debiopharm in 2021 and agreed an upfront payment of EUR 188 million and up to EUR 710 million in potential further payments.

(Report by Olaf Brenner, edited by Birgit Mittwollen. If you have any questions, please contact our editorial team at (for politics and the economy) or (for companies and markets)