Major John Sheppard's team first visit to Hoff, showed that the Hoffan people were trying to perfect a drug that would render the Wraith feeding process useless. Merell was contacted regarding testing of the drug due to the fact he was already terminally ill, and would die sooner or later even if the drug failed and the Wraith was able to feed from him. After an ethical conversation with Dr. Carson Beckett and Hoff medical officer, Perna, regarding whether he should give up his life, he eventually volunteered to be the first test subject for the drug, citing his reasoning to be the bettering of the Hoffan people concluding that they would lose nothing if he died earlier while this way his death would have meaning as it might allow them to perfect the drug for later use if the Wraith was able to feed on him. With the drug under effect, Merell was transported to the location of the captured Wraith Commander, Steve. As Steve gave Sheppard information regarding the Wraith fleet locations, he was rewarded with Merell's "tainted" life source. Merell survived the procedure, while Steve was poisoned and killed.
The next day, Merell died, his cause of death according to Beckett being a complete respiratory breakdown. Although Perna assumed this was due to his prior illness, the deaths of 50% of all those inoculated thereafter confirmed Beckett's initial prognosis that it was due to the drug. Merell was thus officially the first to have died of the Hoffan drug. (SGA: "Poisoning the Well")