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Merck's Keytruda Q3 sales jump 64%; J&J market cap falls $40B in 1 year

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Merck's Keytruda Q3 sales jump 64%; J&J market cap falls $40B in 1 year

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Merck & Co. Inc. cancer drug Keytruda remains the market leader in non-small cell lung cancer after a strong third quarter, but immunotherapies from competitors have recently notched crucial wins, putting pressure on the blockbuster therapy's top spot.

Merck reported on its Oct. 29 earnings call that Keytruda posted 64% sales growth compared to the same quarter a year earlier, exceeding $3 billion for the first time.

Analysts are looking at recent positive data from clinical trials of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s Opdivo and AstraZeneca PLC's Imfinzi, which could take market share or affect the pricing of Keytruda down the road.

"We do expect that over time there will be many, many different programs that will try and address non-small cell lung cancer, and it's important that that happens," said Roger Perlmutter, president of Merck Research Laboratories.

But executives at Merck are confident that Keytruda will not be giving up the throne anytime soon based on its performance.

"In the U.S., we have established Keytruda very strongly as a standard of care in first-line non-small cell lung cancer," Chief Commercial Officer Franklin Clyburn said. "There's significant real-world experience based on our first-mover advantage with Keytruda in lung — so while we know it'll eventually be competitive in this case, we feel very confident in our position."

Sales of Merck's Keytruda rise 64% in Q3 as competitors loom

Chart of the week

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J&J's market capital fell $40B in 1 year amid baby powder litigation, recalls

Earnings coverage

SNL ImageHealthcare companies are reporting third-quarter earnings. The S&P Global Market Intelligence Healthcare news team takes a look at companies' performance and expectations for the full year. This week, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline and Takeda were among those reporting.

Ready to close Celgene deal, Bristol-Myers rises on Opdivo, Eliquis

As Bristol-Myers Squibb prepares to close the largest acquisition in industry history, the company also beat expectations for the third quarter on the backs of its cancer treatment Opdivo and heart drug Eliquis.

Amgen leans on patient volume to drive newer launches as old products falter

Drugs like Amgen Inc.'s osteoporosis treatment Prolia, cholesterol drug Repatha and migraine injection Aimovig were able to show volume growth, a strategy CEO Bob Bradway said is a way to avoid the pricing pressure facing the industry.

GSK marks strong Q3 as demand pushes Shingrix to 87% sales growth

A major contributor to the better-than-expected quarter was GlaxoSmithKline PLC's shingles vaccine Shingrix, which saw sales growth of 87% to £535 million as the company responded to increased demand, CEO Emma Walmsley told investors.

Takeda continues operating efficiency drive, to launch over 10 drugs in China

CEO Christophe Weber said in earnings call that the company will continue to improve its operating efficiency and lower debt level amid the integration with Shire PLC.

HCA Healthcare rebounds from Q2 stumble with strong admissions growth

After stumbling in the second quarter of 2019, HCA Healthcare Inc. beat multiple consensus estimates in the third quarter and was rewarded with a 7% rally at the stock market.

Slimmed-down Pfizer relies on core growth to overcome future patent losses

Looking at the face of the "new" Pfizer Inc., executives pointed out that the biopharmaceutical business grew 9% over the quarter and carries with it a slate of products still driving growth.

In other news

Oversight of 'Right to Try' stem cell market raises concerns, bioethicists say

Bioethicists have questioned the use of the Right to Try Act by some stem cell clinics and whether they meet the law's requirements for administering their unapproved treatments to U.S. patients with complicated diseases.

SNL ImageScientists found the mutated SETD1A gene, a genetic variation that heightens the risk of schizophrenia, caused memory and other abnormalities in mice that mirror those seen in human patients.
Source: Pixabay



Of Mice Not Men: Clues to controlling pain; how drugs become addictive; schizophrenia risk gene

In this week's column, researchers conducted studies in mice to discover a switch in the brain may be responsible for pain reactions; a signaling system is responsible for drug addiction; and a gene mutation that raises the risk of schizophrenia.

China, lack of US FDA inspectors, old processes threaten American drug supply

Lawmakers raised concerns that the American drug supply was under threat from the industry's reliance on foreign-made ingredients, a lack of U.S. inspectors and the use of outdated manufacturing processes.

US FDA panel votes to withdraw AMAG's preterm birth drug, citing lack of data

An advisory committee to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has narrowly voted to withdraw AMAG Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s drug for preterm birth risk due to conflicting efficacy data in two clinical trials.

Indiana suspends Medicaid work rules program due to pending litigation

Indiana suspended its Medicaid work requirements program Oct. 31, continuing the trend of states pausing the controversial health policy that has been defended by the Trump administration.

US FDA suggests steps to curb drug shortages, fix 'broken marketplace'

After analyzing 163 medicines that were in short supply from 2013 to 2017, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration task force found that manufacturing quality problems accounted for 62% of those shortages.

Essential Healthcare is a weekly collection of critical developments across the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, healthcare provider, healthcare technology and medical equipment industries that draws on exclusive analysis and value-added content from the Healthcare News team at S&P Global Market Intelligence. Subscribe now to get Essential Healthcare delivered to your inbox every week.