Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) Halts Clinical Study Of Keytruda, As Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) Tries To Enter PD-1 Market

While Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) and AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (NYSE:AZN) are still trying to enter the PD-1 market, Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) has already halted the clinical study of its Keytruda after its initial success. Merck has stopped the study after an autonomous monitoring authority revealed that the company’s drug Keytruda met the targets as a successful treatment of advanced melanoma. It will make the drug, a first treatment for this skin cancer, thereby helping in prolonging the survival span in those patients who have not been given the treatment.

Read what this analyst has to say about MRK.

Keytruda’s survival rate outshines Bristol’s Drug

The survival rates of Merck’s drug clearly outshined that of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (NYSE:BMY)’s Yervoy. The latter has been used as of now, as the standard of caring for patients of advanced melanoma. In fact, Keytruda’s success reached a landmark achievement when the monitoring committee said that the drug displayed statically vital improvements in avoiding series of cancers like these.

In the last stage of the clinical study of Keytruda, 834 patients were involved. This study shall be presented by the company in April 2015 in Philadelphia.

Working of Keytruda

Keytruda is the kind of PD-1 inhibitor. It works by triggering the immune system of a body, which in turn, attacks the tumors. This drug has already received approval to be used as the second stage treatment for melanoma patients, where there has been a primary treatment already given through Yervoy.

National Cancer Institute explains that the success of this new drug will prove beneficial for around 76,000 Americans suffering from melanoma every year. Out of these, 9,700 patients die every year.

Financial gains for Merck

If the new drug is given a green signal to be used as the primary treatment for the skin cancer, it would prove to be highly beneficial for the economy of Merck. The drug, after being given approval as the second-line use in September, cost approximately $150,000 on an annual basis for a single patient. Bloomberg revealed that Keytruda gave $50 million in the fourth quarter to Merck in 2014. By 2020, the sales of this drug will reach $3.64 billion.

Culver Stinson

Culver Stinson

Stinson is US Markets Daily’s Senior Producer for News & Public Affairs.