GENEVA, June 10, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Merck Serono, a division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and its partner Newron Pharmaceuticals S.p.A., today announced that new data on safinamide will be presented at the 14th annual meeting of the Movement Disorder Society (MDS), an international congress of Parkinson's disease and movement disorders taking place June 13 to 17, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Safinamide is an investigational oral therapy being assessed in Phase III trials as add-on treatment to dopamine agonist or levodopa in early to late stage Parkinson's disease (PD).

The results presented at the 14th MDS congress will contribute to improve the understanding of the mechanism of action of safinamide, said Bernhard Kirschbaum, Merck Serono's Head of Global Research and Development. We believe that safinamide has the potential to become one of the first add-on therapies to treat early to late stage Parkinson's disease.

The following abstracts have been accepted for the poster presentation at the 14th MDS annual meeting:

Poster presentations

- Safinamide reduces levodopa-induced dyskinesia in MPTP-lesioned primates while prolonging anti-parkinsonian efficacy (Poster 680, June 16, 2010, 1:30-3 p.m. local time; Guided Poster Tour 2, June 14, 2010: 2-3:30 p.m. local time) - MOTION (safinaMide add-On To dopamine agonist in early Idiopathic ParkinsON's disease) study design: a 24-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the efficacy and safety of safinamide (Poster 319, June 15, 2010, 1:30-3 p.m. local time) - Effect of safinamide on depressive symptoms in patients with mid-late stage Parkinson's disease (Poster 324, June 15, 2010, 1:30-3 p.m. local time) - Safinamide as add-on to levodopa improves motor function without worsening dyskinesia in patients with mid-late Parkinson's disease (Poster 359, June 15, 2010, 1:30-3 p.m. local time; Guided Poster Tour 13, June 17, 2010, 1:30-3 p.m. local time) - SETTLE study design: a 24-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the efficacy and safety of safinamide as add-on therapy to levodopa in patients with Parkinson's disease (Poster 378, June 15 2010, 1:30-3 p.m. local time) - Cognitive deficits in patients with mid- to late-stage Parkinson's disease (Poster 404, June 15, 2010, 1:30-3 p.m. local time)

About Parkinson's disease

Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that often impairs the patient's motor skills and speech. Parkinson's disease belongs to a group of conditions called movement disorders. It is characterized by muscle rigidity, tremor, a slowing of physical movement (bradykinesia) and, in extreme cases, a loss of physical movement (akinesia). The primary symptoms are the results of decreased stimulation of the motor cortex by the basal ganglia, normally caused by the insufficient formation and action of dopamine, which is produced in the dopaminergic neurons of the brain. Secondary symptoms may include high-level cognitive dysfunction and subtle language problems. Parkinson's disease is both chronic and progressive. It is estimated that more than 3 million people in the industrialized countries suffer from Parkinson's disease.

About Merck Serono

Merck Serono is the division for innovative prescription pharmaceuticals of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a global pharmaceutical and chemical company. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, Merck Serono discovers, develops, manufactures and markets innovative small molecules and biopharmaceuticals to help patients with unmet medical needs. In the United States and Canada, EMD Serono operates through separately incorporated affiliates.

Merck Serono has leading brands serving patients with cancer (Erbitux(R), cetuximab), multiple sclerosis (Rebif(R), interferon beta-1a), infertility (Gonal-f(R), follitropin alfa), endocrine and metabolic disorders (Saizen(R) and Serostim(R), somatropin), (Kuvan(R), sapropterin dihydrochloride) as well as cardiometabolic diseases (Glucophage(R), metformin), (Concor(R), bisoprolol), (Euthyrox(R), levothyroxine). Not all products are available in all markets.

With an annual RD expenditure of more than EUR 1 billion, Merck Serono is committed to growing its business in specialist-focused therapeutic areas including neurodegenerative diseases, oncology, fertility and endocrinology, as well as new areas potentially arising out of research and development in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

About Merck

Merck is a global pharmaceutical and chemical company with total revenues of EUR 7.7 billion in 2009, a history that began in 1668, and a future shaped by approximately 33,600 employees in 64 countries. Its success is characterized by innovations from entrepreneurial employees. Merck's operating activities come under the umbrella of Merck KGaA, in which the Merck family holds an approximately 70% interest and free shareholders own the remaining approximately 30%. In 1917 the U.S. subsidiary Merck Co. was expropriated and has been an independent company ever since.

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SOURCE: Merck Serono

CONTACT: Merck Serono S.A. - Geneva, 9 Chemin des Mines, 1202 Genève,Suisse, Media relations,Tel: +41-22-414-36-00