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BMS pulls ahead of Merck in quarterly PD-1 inhibitor sales

Supports analysts prediction BMS' Opdivo will become market leader

Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck & Co both reported third-quarter results yesterday, with the figure showing that for the first time that BMS has pulled ahead in sales of its PD-1 inhibitor Opdivo.

Opdivo (nivolumab) added $305m to BMS' revenues in the third-quarter, ahead of the $160m booked by Merck for Keytruda (pembrolizumab), with both drugs competing in the melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer categories.

Year-to-date sales for the two drugs are closer at $467m for Opdivo and $352m for Keytruda, but the third-quarter performance suggests BMS is starting to pull away from its rival.

That ties in with analysts' forecasts, which predict that Opdivo will lead the PD-1 inhibitor market in 2020 with annual sales in excess of $8bn with Merck following behind with a still highly-respectable $5bn or more.

BMS' chief executive Giovanni Caforio said Opdivo's performance came on the back of a strong uptake in squamous NSCLC and melanoma, particularly in the US but also in Germany.

The company is claiming that three quarters of new squamous NSCLC patients are being prescribed the drug. With US approval for non-squamous NSCLC now in hand he predicted additional momentum for the product through the fourth quarter and into 2016.

Merck's head of global human health - Adam Schechter - said Keytruda sales were up 45% on the prior quarter and was performing particularly well in melanoma, claiming a 70% share of the anti-PD-1 market in this indication.

Opdivo appears to be benefitting from a broader label in NSCLC - a much larger market than melanoma - as it is approved for second-line treatment of all patients while Keytruda's label indicates it should be used only in those whose tumours express PD-L1, which binds to the PD-1 receptor.

Overall, BMS reported a 4% increase in third-quarter sales to $4.1bn, with Opdivo's growth backed up by gains for Pfizer-partnered novel oral anticoagulant (NOAC) Eliquis (apixaban), which saw sales more than double to $466m compared to the same period of 2014.

Merck meanwhile posted revenues of $10.07bn, a 2% increase, with its Januvia (sitagliptin) and Janumet (sitagliptin and metformin) diabetes franchise leading the charge with sales 9% to $1.01bn and 11% to $562m, respectively.  

Article by
Phil Taylor

28th October 2015

From: Sales



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