Merck makes waves in Q1 2022 with COVID-19 treatment and cancer portfolio – PharmaLive
Posted: April 28, 2022
By Hayley Shasteen
Merck held a conference call Thursday morning to discuss its first quarter 2022 results. The company reported 50% revenue growth, bringing global sales to $15.9 billion.
As expected, Merck’s COVID-19 antiviral treatment Lagevrio (molnupiravir) played a role in its robust sales. The treatment has received several authorizations for use around the world with solid data proof its efficiency. Lagevrio accounted for $3.2 billion of Merck’s global sales and 6.4 million treatments were dispensed in more than 30 countries. The company expects to supply a total of 10 million courses that have been committed under supply and purchase contracts through the first quarter.
“As the pandemic evolves, there continue to be regional increases in infection rates with the emergence of new variants of COVID-19. Some of them are resistant to specific monoclonal antibody regimens and appear to be able to escape some vaccine protection, highlighting the importance of effective and available antiviral options,” said Dean Li, President of Merck Research Laboratories. , during the conference call.
Li noted that the recent phase III data presented by the company adds to the growing body of evidence that the treatment has antiviral properties and a high barrier to resistance. “We believe its low propensity for drug interactions makes it an important option for patients,” Li added.
Merck also highlighted its ever-growing portfolio in oncology. Keytruda sales increased 27% in the first quarter, recording $4.8 billion in sales.
“In the US, Keytruda continues to show strong growth in all key tumors and is benefiting from recent launches in the earliest stage cancers including triple negative breast cancer, renal cell carcinoma and melanoma. Keytruda is currently approved for the treatment of five early-stage cancer indications, and we are excited about the potential for expansion into lung cancer based on the encouraging data,” said Caroline Litchfield, CFO of Merck. “In the metastatic setting, Keytruda continues to maintain its leadership position in non-small cell lung cancer, capturing eight out of ten new eligible patients.”
Another of Merck’s key oncology assets, Lynparza, reported sales growth of 20%, driven by its continued adoption in metastatic breast cancer. As part of cancer prevention efforts, Merck’s HPV vaccine Gardasil generated sales of $1.5 billion, driven by robust demand, particularly in China, and increased sales in the United States due to the timing of the Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention shopping.
Beyond sales, Merck saw a flurry of sales in the US Food and drug administration approvals for its oncology therapies in the first quarter. The company has received six FDA approvals in oncology, including approval for use of Lynparza in early-stage breast cancer and a fourth FDA approval in gynecological cancers for Keytruda. Merck is also gaining momentum in its strong Phase III clinical trial evaluating both Lynparza and Keytruda in prostate cancer.
Merck is also well positioned to make progress in its cardiovascular pipeline. The company anticipates eight potential approvals in the pipeline by 2030. Additionally, Merck provided updates on its vaccine program, announcing that it has received FDA Breakthrough Therapy Designation for V116, a conjugate vaccine Experimental 21-valent antipneumococcal. Clinical trials of V116 are expected to enter phase III this year.