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Pharmafile.com's top ten stories of 2017

After a packed year that has flown by, we've reached the final top ten of 2017. Below you can find the biggest stories of the year that proved most popular with our readers.

It's been a year characterised by uncertainty and scandal, but eventful throughout. From J&J's massive acquisition of Actelion bringing in the year, to Teva's increasingly tragic fall from grace and the shadows cast on the industry and beyond by President Trump and Brexit, 2017 was a standout year for more than just a few reasons.

MSD and Pfizer receive approval for combo diabetes therapy

MSD (known as Merck in North America) and Pfizer have announced that their sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor has received approval by the FDA, for use as a single therapy or as a fixed-dose combination therapy.

Keytruda falls hard at gastric cancer hurdle

There was a time when PD-1/L1 immunotherapy treatments could do no wrong, blasting through indication after indication. However, the limits of the therapies are beginning to be found with a series of surprise failures across a number of indications.

The first major one was Opdivo’s failure as first-line treatment in lung cancer, after this ice-breaker, of sorts, there have been a number of subsequent failures that have called into question how far the treatments can be pushed.

UK government unveils pharma research HQ coup

The UK government’s Autumn Budget struck a gloomy note for the economy, with figures pointing towards low productivity and the likelihood of slowing growth in the years to come.

With Brexit negotiations progressing at a snail’s pace, the government needed a boost to show that its economic plans were proving fruitful and they have released news that will allow them to claim some success.

MSD withdraws European application of Keytruda combo in lung cancer

MSD has been forced to withdraw its EU marketing application for Keytruda (pembrolizumab) in combination with pemetrexed and carboplatin as a first-line treatment for metastatic non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), despite the combination already gaining approval in the US back in May this year.

Samsung Biologics reinforces biologic manufacturing and development partnership with MSD

Samsung Biologics has announced it has expanded its strategic alliance with MSD, or Merck as it is known in the US and Canada, with the signing of a memorandum of understanding. The relationship has come into force to streamline process development and clinical material production for small biotech start-ups focusing on novel drugs.

MSD cuts 1,800 jobs in US operations restructure

MSD has revealed its intention to cut 1,800 sales positions from its workforce in the US. Across the total number, the cuts include the elimination of US sales teams in primary care, endocrinology and hospital chronic care. In their place, the company will add 960 positions with the formation of a new chronic care sales force.

This new force will focus on key products in the company’s pipeline including its diabetes treatment Januvia (sitagliptin) and insomnia therapy Belsomra (suvorexant) in addition to women’s health and respiratory disease products.

MSD gives up on cholesterol drug, despite positive results

MSD, known as Merck in North America, has revealed that it will not pursue a regulatory filing for its cholesterol drug, anacetrapib. The move means that it becomes the latest CETP inhibitor to hit the wall, after previous work in the area by Roche, Pfizer and Eli Lilly also failed to show promise.

MSD’s product did go one step further than its rivals by managing to show that its drug did show benefit in reducing the number of major coronary events compared to placebo in patients at risk.

MSD pulls out of hep C space to Gilead’s relief

MSD, known as Merck in North America, has announced that it will curtail its attempts to make an impact in the hepatitis C space, citing a crowded marketplace as its reason.

The reality is that Gilead has been able to build such a strong lead in the space, and with AbbVie making progress with Mavyret, there was little room for another player.

MSD plays catch up with €464m deal for fledgling biotech

MSD has announced that it will acquire Rigontec, a three-year old German biotech, in a deal worth an initial €115 million and with further payments worth up to €349 million. The biotech only recently completed a recent Series A financing round that brought in close to €30 million, making MSD’s buyout a huge success for investors and a show of faith from MSD in the technology behind the company.

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