Merck (US:MRK) continues to lead global big pharma in the field of novel cancer care. The US group has now secured approval for its Keytruda drug in combination with chemotherapy: the first immuno-oncology/chemo combination to get the green light from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The approval opens the door to wider use of Keytruda in lung cancer as, unlike with its monotherapy approval, the combination has been approved for all non-small-cell lung cancer patients, not just those whose cancer exhibits PD-L1 checkpoints. Keytruda sales - which rose 134 per cent to $584m in the first quarter - are expected to rocket further as a result. Analysts now expect full-year sales to be close to $3bn.