About a dozen years ago, Bellus Health was teetering on the brink of insolvency after a would-be treatment for Alzheimer’s disease turned out to be no better than placebo. Today, it is a rehabilitated enterprise with plans to contend with Merck, and it just took full control of its own destiny.

This week Bellus signed a deal to buy out its partners and acquire the full rights to BLU-5937, an in-development treatment for chronic cough. Much like a Merck drug called gefapixant, BLU-5937 targets a sensory receptor called P2X3, which plays a role in triggering coughing.

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