Merck KGaA leans heavily on oncology portfolio to stem decline in biopharma revenue growth.
By Justin Burns, Analytics Analyst
9 June 2016
Merck KGaA is undergoing a transition in the biopharma business as key products Rebif (interferon beta-1a) and Erbitux (cetuximab) experience significant sales declines over the forecast period. Merck KGaA will attempt to combat these declines with a foray into the lucrative immuno-oncology market. Merck KGaA entered into a strategic alliance with Pfizer in 2014 to develop and commercialize their programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) inhibitor, avelumab, in multiple tumor types.
Merck KGaA will rely on avelumab to drive revenue growth in oncology in the face of declining Erbitux (cetuximab) sales and the clinical failure of pipeline candidate evofosfamide. Avelumab is being co-developed with Pfizer in multiple tumor types, including non-small cell lung cancer, gastric cancer, and merkel cell carcinoma.
Avelumab’s most significant opportunity presents itself in the maintenance treatment of gastric cancer where the drug’s promising clinical activity will distinguish it from other marketed and pipeline drugs in this indication. The aggressive nature of gastric cancer and the lack of clear treatment standards for maintenance therapy has created an area of limited competition and unmet need. As a result, avelumab’s chances of commercial success in this increasingly competitive indication will improve if it can demonstrate superior efficacy as a maintenance therapy in Phase III trials over common chemotherapeutic regimens.
Datamonitor Healthcare’s company analysis on Merck KGaA explores global corporate strategy, marketed portfolio, pipeline potential, and financial performance over 2015–25.
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