Merck KGaA ceases trials of MS drug

SEATTLE Merck KGaA has halted trials of a multiple sclerosis drug it licensed from a U.S. biotechnology company after results showed patients did worse when taking it.

The German drug maker, which is separate from U.S.-based Merck & Co., had licensed the drug atacicept from Seattle-based ZymoGenetics. An independent panel of scientists found that patients in the trial experienced an increase in disease symptoms when taking the drug.

Nevertheless, trials of the drug as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and lupus will continue, and similar complications have not emerged in those patient groups.