Merck Posts $60B in Sales for 2023 Driven by Keytruda, HPV Vaccine

Merck Research Laboratories_iStock, Michael Vi

Pictured: Merck Research Laboratories in California/iStock, Michael Vi

Merck‘s blockbuster Keytruda  (pembrolizumab) continues to be a top seller for the pharma giant as it posted over $25 billion in sales in 2023, a 19% jump from last year, according to the company's fourth quarter and full-year financial results announced on Thursday.

According to Merck’s fourth-quarter 2023 results, Keytruda pulled in over $6.6 billion in sales, a 21% bump from the same period in 2022. The sales growth in the quarter was due to an “uptake in earlier-stage indications” such as in renal cell carcinoma and triple-negative breast cancer, along with the global demand for its other multiple indications.

The company’s HPV vaccine Gardasil also reached the billion-dollar figure in the fourth quarter of 2023, bringing in $1.8 billion for Merck in 2023, a 27% jump from the previous year due to growth in the U.S. and China. For all of 2023, Gardasil brought in over $8.8 billion.

However, Merck’s COVID-19 did not fare well. The antiviral Lageviro posted $193 million in sales in the fourth quarter of 2023, a 77% drop from last year. Merck said this was due to a “nonrecurrence” of sales in the U.K. and low demand in Australia and Japan. It only brought in over $1.4 billion for 2023, a 75% drop since 2022.

Still, pharmaceuticals pulled in over $13 billion in sales for Merck in the fourth quarter of 2023, an 8% jump since last year, and $60 billion in total for the year.

“2023 was another solid year for Merck. I am extremely pleased by the progress we’ve made to develop and deliver transformative therapies and vaccines that will help save and improve lives worldwide,” Merck CEO Robert Davis said in a statement. 

Merck is continuing its clinical program in 2024 for  blockbuster cancer drug Keytruda. In January, one of Keytruda’s latest data rollouts showed an improvement in overall survival when used as an adjuvant treatment in renal cell carcinoma and for localized muscle-invasive urothelial carcinoma.

The company last month acquired Harpoon Therapeutics for $680 million to add to its oncology and immunotherapy pipeline. Merck is also looking to target the competitive pneumococcal vaccine space, with a PDUFA date set for its V116 vaccine in June 2024.

Tyler Patchen is a staff writer at BioSpace. You can reach him at tyler.patchen@biospace.com. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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