Merck Highlights Growth Strategy at J.P. Morgan
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Powered by its oncology and cardiovascular pipeline, Merck is eying significant revenue growth of more than $20 billion within the next decade.
At the 41st J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, Merck CEO Robert M. Davis outlined the company’s growth strategy that banks on the continued expansion of Keytruda and other oncology assets, as well as growth for its human papilloma virus vaccine, Gardasil. Key highlights from Merck’s presentation are:
Merck remains on track for significant revenue growth for the whole of 2022. In the third quarter, the company reported year-to-date revenue of $45.5 billion, a 29% increase from the previous year. In the same quarter in 2021, Merck reported $35.2 billion in year-to date revenue. Overall sales for 2021 were $48.7 billion, a 17% increase over 2020 earnings of $41.5 billion.
The primary growth driver for Merck is its checkpoint inhibitor, Keytruda, which generated $15 billion by the end of the third quarter. Other products contributing significant revenue include Gardasil, which generated $5.4 billion for Merck through the first nine months of the year.
Surgical drug Bridion added another $1.2 billion in sales by the end of the third quarter. PARP inhibitor Lynparza, co-developed with AstraZeneca, provided $825 million and cancer drug Lenvima generated $660 million by the end of the third quarter for 2022.
Full year results for 2022 are expected to be announced in February.
Merck’s vaccines business will be a key growth driver over the next 10 years. Gardasil will continue to play an important role in Merck’s vaccines business. In its presentation, Merck said sales of the HPV vaccine are expected to double by 2030. The significant revenue boost will be driven by “strong global demand and increased ability to supply,” the company announced.
Other vaccine assets for Merck include a promising pipeline of vaccines for RSV and Dengue. Merck partnered with Instituto Butantan on the development of a Dengue vaccine. Earlier this year, IB posted positive topline results from a Phase III study of the vaccine candidate. The data is expected to inform next steps, Merck said.
Merck also has a suite of population-specific pneumococcal conjugate vaccines. In 2022, V116, a Phase III vaccine for the prevention of invasive pneumococcal disease in adults received Breakthrough Therapy designation.
Merck also intends to leverage its established presence in pediatric vaccines, the company noted in its presentation. One of its key pediatric vaccines is Vaxneuvance, a pediatric pneumococcal vaccine approved in June. The vaccine was approved for invasive pneumococcal disease in 2021.
In 2022, Merck continued to make significant progress with Keytruda. The drug racked up additional approvals, including receiving the green light for advanced endometrial cancer. Keytruda is also potentially in-line for additional approvals in non-small cell lung cancer and HER2- gastric or GEJ adenocarcinoma based on positive clinical data.
Lynparza received an approval for adjuvant treatment of adults with gBRCAm, HER2- high-risk early breast cancer.
The company also posted positive Phase IIb topline data for MRNA-4157/V940, a potential therapeutic for adjuvant melanoma.
Merck also saw progress with its cardiometabolic disease pipeline. The company announced positive topline data from the Phase III STELLAR trial assessing sotatercept for treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension. Merck gained the drug through its $11 billion acquisition of Acceleron. That data is expected to lead to multiple regulatory filings.
Additionally, Merck’s MK-2060 received Fast Track designation in August for the reduction in risk of major thrombotic cardiovascular events in patients with end-stage renal disease. MK-2060 is an experimental monoclonal antibody designed to inhibit Factor XI.
Merck will continue to augment its pipeline through “the best external science.” Over the past five years, Merck spent more than $36 billion on business development deals. Noted activity over the past 12 months includes a collaboration with Moderna to evaluate a personalized cancer vaccine across multiple tumor types, as well as a collaboration with PeptiDream to discover and develop novel peptide drug conjugates.
Merck also acquired Imago BioSciences in November to expand its hematology presence with the LSD1 inhibitor, bomedemstat. The $1.3 billion deal provided Merck with a pipeline of myeloproliferative neoplasms therapeutics.