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R&D report card: Merck & Co. spending supports multiple Keytruda indications

Merck & Co. Inc., maker of blockbuster cancer drug Keytruda, spent $9.87 billion on research and development in 2019, according to data collected by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The amount is comparable to Merck's R&D spending in 2018, which totaled $9.75 billion.

For the first and second quarters of 2020, the company reported R&D spending of $2.21 billion and $2.12 billion, respectively.

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The company's phase 3 pipeline includes Keytruda, which is being evaluated in late-stage studies for treating several types of cancer, including ovarian, cervical, esophageal, prostate, lung, liver and breast. The drug is also in trials as a treatment for nasopharyngeal cancer, mesothelioma, biliary tract cancer, gastric cancer, endometrial cancer and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma.

Other therapies in the Kenilworth, N.J.-based company's pipeline include Lenvima, for advanced solid tumors, and MK-4482, for SARS-CoV-2 infection.

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A five-year followup with lung cancer patients receiving Keytruda showed the medicine almost doubled the number who lived compared with those receiving chemotherapy.

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