Shares of Merck (MRK) are rising this morning, while peer Bristol-Myers (BMY) is sliding, after both companies presented new data on their respective cancer immunotherapy treatments at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting that began over this weekend.
MERCK’S KEYTRUDA: In conjunction with the AACR meeting, Merck announced results from KEYNOTE-189, a pivotal Phase 3 trial evaluating Keytruda, Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy, in combination with pemetrexed, or ALIMTA, and cisplatin or carboplatin for the first-line treatment of metastatic nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer. The addition of Keytruda to pemetrexed plus platinum chemotherapy achieved a significant improvement in progression-free survival, or PFS, with a reduction in the risk of progression or death of nearly half for patients in the KEYTRUDA combination arm, compared with chemotherapy alone, Merck stated.
BRISTOL’S OPDIVO: Meanwhile, Bristol-Myers Squibb announced initial results from the pivotal Phase 3 study, CheckMate -227, evaluating the Opdivo 3 mg/kg plus low-dose Yervoy combination in first-line advanced non-small cell lung cancer patients with high tumor mutational burden greater than or equal to10 mutations/megabase. In the Phase 3 CheckMate -227 trial, Opdivo plus low-dose Yervoy reduced the risk of progression or death by 42% versus chemotherapy in first-line lung cancer patients with high tumor mutational burden. The one-year progression-free survival rate was more than triple with the combination versus chemotherapy, or 43% vs. 13%, in first-line non-small cell lung cancer patients with high TMB greater than or equal to10 mut/Mb, the company stated.
PRICE ACTION: In early trading, Merck shares have gained $1.79, or 3%, to $58.97 while Bristol-Myers shares have fallen over 5% to $55.50.