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
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