Merck's Keytruda Claims Market Leadership In First-line Lung Cancer
Merck enjoyed a good second quarter, beating sales expectations for Keytruda and other drugs, which helped offset losses related to patent expirations.
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Merck adds to its stagnating HIV portfolio with US approvals of doravirine and a three-drug combo including the NNRTI, but the combo’s potential may be limited due to inclusion of an older version of tenofovir.
Merck came out ahead in the immuno-oncology combination showdown at AACR, with a strong overall survival benefit for Keytruda/chemo in the Phase III KEYNOTE-189 study in first-line NSCLC. The data were seen as practice-changing, but Bristol's CheckMate-227 trial of Opdivo/Yervoy failed to impress in the same way.
The pharma hopes showing a PFS benefit in first-line NSCLC patients with a high tumor mutation burden may provide a way to compete with Merck in that setting, but analysts think it will need overall survival data.