This week, Fox News reported that Merck would be ending its study of melanoma drug Keytruda early. This stoppage is due to the fact that the drug has proven very successful in a study done by an independent company.
The medicine, a PD-1 inhibitor that works by taking the brakes off the immune system, is already approved to treat patients who have failed to benefit from standard treatments, including Bristol-Myers Squibb Co’s Yervoy. Patients taking Keytruda showed meaningful improvement in overall survival and in delayed progression of disease, compared with those taking Yervoy, Merck said. The data, if regulators agree, could allow Merck to widen its marketing of Keytruda to people being treated for the first time for the dangerous skin disease.
Merck said that the safety of the drug was similar in this study to previous ones. Common side effects included fatigue, coughing, and nausea. All in all, the side effects were generally mild. Keytruda is the first PD-1 inhibitor drug approved by the FDA. It is meant for patients who are no longer responding to other treatments. The drug is also being tested for use with lung cancer. Merck is hoping to have it approved for that use by mid-year.
Other pharmaceutical companies are also developing their own PD-1 inhibitor drugs. Wall Street foresees the drugs generating sales of over $30 billion each year.
We at MoleSafe find this to be a very exciting prospect. We hope to see the FDA approve the drug’s use for melanoma soon.
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