Merck & Co has quietly pulled the plug on its licensing agreement with Ariad for the experimental cancer medicine ridaforolimus.

In its annual report, Ariad said it would regain all rights related to the drug in November this year, "creating a new clinical and business opportunity".

Merck acquired development and marketing rights to ridaforolimus from Ariad back in 2010, but the drug has suffered substantial setbacks ever since.

In June 2012, regulators rejected the M-TOR inhibitor for metastatic soft tissue or bone sarcoma, calling for additional clinical trials to prove its overall survival benefit.

And just five months later Merck withdrew its application to market ridaforolimus in Europe, after the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) indicated that the data available at the time were insufficient for approval.

In the near-term, the next step for the drug is assessment by Medinol as part of the drug-eluting stent system called NIRsupreme. 

Patient enrollment in Medinol’s two registration trials, along with the submission of an investigational device exemption with the US Food and Drug Administration, triggers milestone payments to Ariad of $3.75 million, with the potential for additional regulatory, clinical and sales milestones, as well as royalties on product sales.