Merck & Co and Novo Nordisk have joined TransCelerate BioPharma, the non-profit established by leading pharmaceutical companies to advance innovation and tackle inefficiencies in R&D.

The founding member companies back in September 2012 were AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Roche and Sanofi. They have subsequently been joined by Actavis, Allergan, Astellas, Biogen Idec, EMD Serono, Medgenics, Shionogi, UCB and Cubist Pharmaceuticals, the antibiotics specialist which has just been acquired by Merck.

Dalvir Gill, chief executive of Philadelphia-based TransCelerate, said the additions of Merck and Novo “further extend the reach of our workstream solutions that each aim to drive the efficient, effective and high-quality delivery of new medicines”.

The company also noted that Briggs Morrison, chief medical officer at AstraZeneca, has been appointed as chair of the board of directors.