Keytruda (pembrolizumab) is an anti-PD-1 immunotherapy treatment that has been approved for a variety of indications in oncology, which sees the treatment on track to achieve revenues of above $10bn (€8.9bn) in full year results.
In second quarter financials, Merck, known as MSD outside the US and Canada, reported that Keytruda brought in sales of $2.63bn, a growth of 58% compared to Q2 2018 results.
Beyond Keytruda, the company was able to report that its vaccines business had also experienced strong sales in the quarter – as total sales across the division edged towards $2bn.
Demand for its Gardasil/Gardasil 9 (recombinant human papillomavirus vaccine) product has seen the company commit to an investment of $650m in order to expand production capacity. This move will also see the company boost its headcount by more than 400 roles.
The sales of both parts of its portfolio led to worldwide sales being 12% higher than the same period last year, with a growth of 13% when pharmaceutical sales were taken in isolation from the rest of the business.
This increase in sales was, in part, also driven by international sales, such as in the Chinese market, where sales were up by 41% compared to the previous year’s quarter.
In a statement, CEO of Merck, Kenneth Frazier, called attention to its ‘science-led strategy’, which will see its “innovative products and significant pipeline opportunities continue to deliver strong results and provide sustainable value to patients and shareholders.”
A substantial part of the company’s pipeline opportunity resides within the more than 1,000 trials currently ongoing, looking into the therapeutic potential of Keytruda.
The company released data only the day prior to the financial results, which showed that Keytruda met its primary endpoint in a Phase III trial to treat patients with triple-negative breast cancer.
Merck’s share price rose by 4% on the announcement of its second-quarter results.