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Ontruzant launches to become first Herceptin biosimilar available in the UK

Ontruzant, the biosimilar version of Herceptin (trastuzumab ) originally developed by Korean firm Samsung Bioepis, has launched for patients in the UK, becoming the first biologic copycat version of Roche’s blockbuster to be available in the region.

MSD, better known as Merck across the Atlantic, is handling marketing as part of a global biosimilars development and commercialisation agreement with Samsung Bioepis.

Eisai and MSD team up to combine Lenvima and Keytruda in cancer

Pharma heavyweights MSD (Merck) and Eisai have announced they are to join forces to develop and commercialise the latter’s tyrosine kinase inhibitor Lenvima (lenvatinib mesylate), both as a monotherapy and in combination with MSD’s blockbuster immunotherapy Keytruda (pembrolizumab) in the treatment of a range of cancers. Subject to sales, the alliance could be worth as much as $5.76 billion for the Japanese firm.

MSD poised to acquire viral immuno-oncology firm Viralytics for $394m

MSD, known as Merck in the US, has announced it is to buy Australian viral immuno-oncology firm Viralytics for $394 million – 160% of the company’s average stock price over the last month – provided it isn’t outbid by a competitor.

Long-running, $2.5bn lawsuit swings in Gilead’s favour

The fate of pharma company’s profits and losses largely rests on product approvals and the sales team behind them but, when a record fine is looming over a company, it can also be dependent on the court rooms.

Gilead will be breathing a sigh of relief, after a judge overturned a record $2.54 billion decision against it. The case was brought by MSD, known as Merck in North America, regarding Gilead’s blockbuster hepatitis C drugs, Sovaldi and Harvoni.

MSD had alleged that Gilead infringed its patents and had initially won the case in December of 2016.

Biogen shares hit by key Alzheimer’s drug concerns

Biogen made investors very nervous after it announced that it was choosing to add an additional 510 patients to its key trial into its Alzheimer’s medicine.

The decision to flood more patients into the trial was made after it apparently saw “increased variability” on the data from those receiving aducanumab.

It’s a bad time for potential treatments into Alzheimer’s, with a raft of companies recently throwing in the towel on key drugs since the start of the year and Pfizer surprising the entire industry by dumping its neuroscience division.

New biotech facility to bring 350 jobs to Dublin

Image Credit: Hans-Peter Bock

MSD has announced plans to invest in a new biotechnology facility in Dublin which it claims will create 350 jobs in the Irish capital.

The plant will be built on property the company already owns – the site of its former facility in Swords, which was closed down in June last year, taking with it 570 jobs since 2013.

MSD shuts down Phase 3 trial in prodromal Alzheimer's

Another blow has been dealt to the field of Alzheimer’s research as MSD announces yet another trial failure of a drug to treat the disease. The firm halted development of the drug Verubecestat after it could not present enough potential efficacy in prodromal forms of the condition to warrant further study.

The decision was made following a recommendation from the external Data Monitoring Committee, which advised that a positive benefit/risk was unlikely to be achieved by continuing the trial.

EMA committee recommends seven therapies from Roche, GSK, MSD and more

The European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) has voiced its recommendation of a raft of products in a number of therapeutic areas, including candidates from GlaxoSmithKline, Roche and MSD.

MSD’s interim Keytruda combo data spooks Roche and BMS

When PD-1/L1 treatments first came on the market, there was a race to snaffle as many indications as possible for the therapies. Since then, the market has moved on again and the new competition is to see which company can get a combination therapy onto the market first.

AstraZeneca, notoriously, tried and fail – failing to boost progression-free survival (PFS) in first line non-small cell lung cancer, with its shares tanking by 16% of the news.

AZ and MSD's Lynparza becomes first PARP inhibitor approved in US for metastatic breast cancer

The FDA has announced that it has awarded marketing authorisation in the US to Lynparza (olaparib), a poly ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitor developed by AstraZeneca and MSD as part of a partnership agreed in July 2017.

The therapy is approved for the treatment of deleterious or suspected deleterious germline BRCA-mutated (gBRCAm), human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative metastatic breast cancer in adult patients who have been previously treated with chemotherapy in the neoadjuvant, adjuvant or metastatic setting.

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