Merck’s kidney cancer therapy approved ahead of expectations

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The US Food and Drug Administration has approved Merck & Co Inc’s cancer therapy, Keytruda, as part of a combination therapy for previously untreated patients with the most common type of kidney cancer. Reuters Health reports that the drug was approved in combination with Pfizer Inc’s Inlyta to treat advanced renal cell carcinoma.

The approval, which comes two months ahead of expectations, allows this combination therapy to get an early launch ahead of other rival products, Cowen analyst Yaron Werber said.

The report says the Keytruda/Inlyta combination could provide serious competition for Bristol-Myers Squibb Co’s immunotherapy combination of Opdivo and Yervoy, currently considered a gold standard for previously untreated advanced kidney cancer patients.

Merck’s Keytruda, which works by increasing the ability of the patient’s immune system to help detect and fight tumour cells, has been its most important revenue growth driver with its domination of the lucrative lung cancer space.

The report says according to results from the study posted in February, about 90% of the patients who received the Keytruda/Inlyta combination were alive after 12 months, compared with about 78% of patients who were alive after a year when treated with an older Pfizer standalone therapy Sutent.

Reuters Health report

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