Sales of Merck Sharp & Dohme’s immuno-oncology drug Keytruda grew a massive 66% year-on-year bringing in $2.15bn in the fourth quarter surpassing most analysts expectations.
Earlier in January MSD announced a huge victory for the company as Keytruda slashed risk of death by 31% in oesophageal cancer.
Merck CEO Ken Frazier however is urging investors to focus on the company’s long term pipeline which not only includes more marketing labels for Keytruda, but also innovative vaccines and newer cancer care drugs.
Other growth prospects in MSD’s portfolio include the diabetes blockbuster Januvia (sitagliptin) which actually declined 4% to $1.47bn in the third quarter. Human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil was up 32% to $835m and cancer drugs Lynparza (olaparib) and Lenmvia (lenvatinib) also put up good performances.
According to Frazier, MSD currently “has one of the broadest and most promising pipelines we’ve ever had over the past few decades”.
He went on to explain during the phone call that Merck still remains under pressure to diversify its pipeline.
MSD has stated that it currently is expecting 2019 sales to be between $43.2bn and $44.7bn. Yet this did little to calm the minds of nervous investors who are looking for more of a tangible breakthrough beyond heavy-weight Keytruda.