Merck’s Keytruda pummels BMS Opdivo

Merck’s marketing of Keytruda was more strategic and their marketing more aggressive. The Global Drug sales of Opdivo stood at USD 9,566.59 Million in 2022, while Keytruda was over $20 billion. What happened?

Keytruda beat Optivo in sales for several reasons.

  • Keytruda has a broader range of approved indications. Keytruda is approved to treat a variety of cancers, including melanoma, lung cancer, head and neck cancer, and bladder cancer. Optivo is only approved to treat melanoma.
  • Keytruda is more effective than Optivo. Studies have shown that Keytruda is more effective at shrinking tumors and extending survival than Optivo.
  • Keytruda has a better safety profile than Optivo. Keytruda is generally well-tolerated, with few side effects. Optivo can cause more serious side effects like liver damage and blood clots.
  • Keytruda has been marketed more aggressively than Optivo. The manufacturer of Keytruda, Merck, has invested heavily in marketing and sales, which has helped to raise awareness of the drug and drive demand. The manufacturer of Optivo, Novartis, has not been as aggressive in its marketing efforts.

As a result of these factors, Keytruda has been much more successful in the marketplace than Optivo. In 2021, Keytruda generated sales of $17.2 billion, while Optivo generated sales of $1.2 billion.

Here are some additional details about each drug:

  • Keytruda (pembrolizumab) is a humanized monoclonal antibody that blocks the PD-1 protein. PD-1 is a checkpoint protein that helps cancer cells evade the immune system. By blocking PD-1, Keytruda helps the immune system attack cancer cells.
  • Optivo (pembrolizumab-wabocetinib) is a combination of pembrolizumab and wabocetinib. Pembrolizumab is a checkpoint inhibitor, while wabocetinib is a kinase inhibitor. Kinase inhibitors block the activity of enzymes that cancer cells need to grow and spread.

Both Keytruda and Optivo are given as an intravenous infusion. Keytruda is typically given every 3 weeks, while Optivo is given every 2 weeks.

The most common side effects of Keytruda include fatigue, rash, nausea, and diarrhea. The most common side effects of Optivo include fatigue, diarrhea, and nausea.

Keytruda is a breakthrough cancer drug that has helped to improve the survival of many patients with advanced cancer. Optivo is a newer drug still being studied, but it can potentially be a valuable treatment option for patients with melanoma. But there is no doubt that BMS has proved that its strategic marketing is inferior to Merck’s.