On Monday, Ligand Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:LGND) confirmed that Merck (NYSE:MRK) will pay it a $2 million milestone payment, as the latter begins phase 2b/3 clinical trials of a new cancer drug.

Ligand believes the drug in question, dinaciclib -- originally developed by Ligand acquisition Pharmacopoeia -- offers "significant potential in oncology" and has licensed the drug to Merck for use in treating chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

The news comes too late to save Ligand's third quarter, with the company warning investors this week that absent the $2 million payment, its Q3 revenues are going to fall about 25% short of previous expectations. As the money shifts into Q4, however, Ligand was able to up guidance for Q4 by about 18%, to $13 million.

Two million dollars is about 6.7% of the $30 million in revenues Ligand expects to collect this year. Ligand reports Q3 earnings on Nov. 5.

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