Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) will file for U.S regulatory approval for the purpose of making their drug Keytruda, marketable. The drug provides treatment for patients with lung cancer.
Statistically speaking, people with lung cancer are more than those with melanoma. Moreover, Yervoy, a drug by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (NYSE:BMY), which treats melanoma has lesser odds of survival than Merck’s Keytruda. Both the drugs improve the immune system and program them to destroy tumors.
Both the drugs, namely Keytruda and Yervoy are supposed to immunotherapies. However, the ways of working of both the drugs are entirely different. However, Yervoy has become the primary medicine for treating advanced melanoma, since it was released in the markets during 2011. The drug helped Bristol Myers to grab $1.3 billion in sales during last year.
Interestingly, Keytruda, which is a PD-1 inhibitor, had been approved by the U.S regulatory body last year, to treat those melanoma patients, whose condition had worsened even after trying Yervoy. Nevertheless, the Bristol Myers drug was the first in its family to show life-prolonging signs to melanoma patients. According to Suzanne Topalian, the Director of Melanoma Program at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, Yervoy became the “gold standard” for the drugs of its category and became a frame of reference for them.
However, she expects that the scene could change as the new study showed Keytruda to be more effective than Yervoy. The study accounted for 830 patients, who were in advanced stages of melanoma and had taken Keytruda against Yervoy. Nearly 33% of patients took Keytruda once every two weeks, another 33% took once in every 3 weeks and the rest received the standard 4 samples of Yervoy.
Just after a year, 74% of people receiving Keytruda every two weeks and 68% of those receiving it in every three weeks had been still alive, in comparison to only 58% of those receiving Yervoy. Keytruda had decreased death risks to 31% against 37% of Yervoy.