Merck’s 2014 Sirna/RNAi Divestiture Epilogue, Of Sorts: “The Merck 6”?!

From my perspective, I’ll take the side of Dicerna — and trust that it did, in fact — as it says — appropriately investigate Alnylam’s concerns in January, and conclude that it had firewalls in place, to keep trade secrets of Alnylam (which were acquired by Alnylam, from Merck, in 2014) from being used inappropriately at Dicerna, by the so-called Merck Six.

I suppose (on balance) I fall on the side of freedom of contract — the freedom of scientists to find gainful employment, here in the US. I do also respect intellectual property rights, but saying that six former Merck scientists (who I’ll speculate were likely facing a downsizing after Merck essentially exited this area of research and development), are unable to work anywhere in their chosen field of endeavor. . . seems decidedly. . . un-American. Smile. Yes — that is tongue in cheek.

In any event, here is a bit of Dicerna’s response press release this morning. Do also go read Derek Lowe (at In The Pipeline) on the topic.

. . . .”Dicerna’s technology is built firmly on its own research and innovation” noted Douglas Fambrough Ph.D. chief executive officer of Dicerna “Dicerna focuses on serious life-threatening diseases involving the liver and genetically defined cancers for which patients have few or no treatment options available. Our RNAi-based therapeutics utilize our proprietary RNAi technologies and not prior Merck research. We stand behind these technologies and the company’s record and practices for respecting IP rights in order to develop and deliver life-changing therapies as efficiently as possible. . . .”

Earlier this year Alnylam indicated it was concerned about unspecified aspects of Dicerna’s GalNAc delivery technologies. Dicerna then conducted a thorough investigation and confirmed that there has been no use of Merck/Alnylam confidential information at the company. Dicerna communicated the results of its investigation to Alnylam (one of many facts omitted from the complaint). Likewise Dicerna communicated to Alnylam facts demonstrating that many of the insinuations in the Alnylam complaint are simply false and others are unfounded speculation. . . .

My prior background (circa March 2014) on the unwinding of Merck’s interest in RNAi tech, is here. Here was yesterday’s version of Alnylam’s original complaint in state court in Massachusetts. I will predict that unless this all settles very quickly, the suit will be removed to the federal courthouse in Boston, by Dicerna’s counsel. Both are Delaware companies, and both have executive offices in Massachusetts, but I still see that as being likely — if this is to go to trial. But we shall see. Onward. Missing your soft lips, miss. . . .

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