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Key Drugs in Merck’s Oncology Portfolio

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Lenvima growth trends

In the first quarter, Merck’s (MRK) and Eisai’s Lenvima reported solid uptake across multiple markets, driven mainly by demand in unresectable HCC (hepatocellular carcinoma). In the first quarter, Merck’s share of the Lenvima alliance brought it a profit of $74 million. Merck expects China to be a major growth opportunity for the drug, mainly due to the country’s higher prevalence of HCC.

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Lynparza growth trends

In the first quarter, Merck’s and AstraZeneca’s Lynparza brought Merck a profit of $79 million, marking a 100% rise YoY (year-over-year). Merck reported in its first-quarter conference call that Lynparza is a leading PARP (poly-ADP ribose polymerase) inhibitor therapy and accounts for more than 50% of treatment in this class of drugs.

On December 19, 2018, Merck announced the FDA’s approval of Lynparza as maintenance therapy in first-line BRCA-mutated advanced ovarian cancer. The drug’s recent US label expansion and launch in China and Japan has been boosting its demand in fiscal 2019.

On April 10, AstraZeneca announced announcing the European Commission’s approval of Lynparza in germline BRCA-mutated HER2-negative advanced breast cancer, and on April 29, the company announced the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use’s positive opinion on Lynparza in first-line BRCA-mutated advanced ovarian cancer. These regulatory decisions are expected to boost demand for the drug in European markets.

On February 26, AstraZeneca announced favorable results from POLO, a Phase 3 trial evaluating the efficacy of Lynparza in terms of progression-free survival as first-line maintenance therapy in germline BRCA-mutated metastatic pancreatic cancer. Label expansion for pancreatic cancer indications could boost Lynparza significantly.

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