Merck’s Keytruda (pembrolizumab) has been a major player in the world of cancer treatment since its approval by the FDA in 2014. Keytruda is an immunotherapy drug that works by blocking a protein called PD-1, which allows cancer cells to evade the immune system. The drug has been approved for the treatment of a wide range of cancers, including melanoma, lung cancer, and head and neck cancer.
However, Merck recently reported two Phase 3 study misses for Keytruda. The first study, known as KEYNOTE-598, was testing the drug in combination with chemotherapy for the treatment of metastatic triple-negative breast cancer. The study failed to meet its primary endpoint of improving progression-free survival (PFS) compared to chemotherapy alone.
The second study, known as KEYNOTE-890, was testing Keytruda as an adjuvant therapy for patients with resected high-risk stage II melanoma. The study failed to meet its primary endpoint of improving disease-free survival (DFS) compared to a placebo.
These results represent a setback in the development of cancer treatments. Keytruda has been a major success story in the world of cancer treatment, with sales of the drug reaching $14.4 billion in 2020. The drug has been credited with revolutionizing the treatment of certain cancers, particularly those with high levels of PD-L1 expression.
Despite this recent study’s misses, Merck remains committed to the development of Keytruda and other cancer treatments. The company has a robust pipeline of drugs in development, including several new immunotherapy drugs that target different aspects of the immune system.
One of these drugs is bintrafusp alfa, which is being developed in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline. Bintrafusp alfa is a novel immunotherapy drug that targets two immune checkpoint proteins, PD-L1 and TGF-β. The drug is currently being tested in several Phase 3 clinical trials for the treatment of various cancers, including non-small cell lung cancer and cervical cancer.
Merck is also investing in the development of personalized cancer treatments. The company recently announced a collaboration with Illumina to develop a next-generation sequencing (NGS) system for the identification of genetic mutations in cancer patients. The system will be used to guide the selection of personalized treatments for individual patients.
In conclusion, Merck’s recent Phase 3 study misses Keytruda represent a setback in the development of cancer treatments. However, the company remains committed to the development of Keytruda and other cancer drugs. With a robust pipeline of drugs in development and a commitment to personalized medicine, Merck is poised to continue making significant contributions to the field of cancer treatment.