Keytruda extends life for advanced bladder cancer patients

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Merck & Co Inc said its immunotherapy, Keytruda, helped previously treated patients with advanced bladder cancer live longer in a late-stage study, prompting an independent monitoring panel to recommend stopping the trial early, reports Reuters Health.

The blockbuster drug’s benefit in patients with urothelial cancer, the most common form of bladder cancer, surpassed that of chemotherapy, meeting the main study goal of overall survival. Patients enrolled in the trial suffered from an advanced form of the cancer despite undergoing chemotherapy.

Keytruda, which belongs to a new class of medicines called PD-1 inhibitors that help the immune system unmask hidden cancer cells, generated second-quarter sales of $314m. The drug, along with rival Bristol-Myers Squibb & Co’s Opdivo, is already approved to treat a common form of lung cancer.

Analysts expect that the treatments will rake in tens of billions of dollars in sales in the years ahead, as they are tested for other types of cancer, the report says.

A newer entrant to the immunotherapy space is Roche Holding AG, whose drug Tecentriq won US approval in May for bladder cancer, followed by lung cancer last week.

Reuters Health report

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