Merck & Co., Inc. Signs Deal With Eisai Co., Ltd For Clinical Testing of Cancer Drugs


Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) and Eisai Co., Ltd (ADR) (OTCMKTS:ESALY) ended Thursday, on dramatic news of joined efforts. Both the companies announced that they now have a formal deal to ‘clinically test’ their cancer portfolios in various combinations.

What this means for cancer treatment?

The combined efforts of the front-running cancer drug making companies mean that there is hope for new, and fundamentally more ‘effective,’ combinations from among the proven drugs. It is hoped that combined drugs will extend the life of cancer patients, or offer better efficacy.

Currently, clinical trials will be used to asses toleration levels and safety, as well as efficacy, of Merck & Co., Inc.(NYSE:MRK)’s keytruda, an anti-PD-1 Therapy with a key compound by Eisai, called Lenvima in the U.S., and Halaven in a series of studies, which includes multiple tests.

At the present juncture, the pipeline studies include- Phase Ib as well as II studies. These will evaluate tests for combined lenvatinib as well as pembrolizumab in patients with such conditions. Solid tumors, as well as metastatic triple-negative breast cancer conditions, are likely to begin tests towards the end of 2015.

The combined multiple clinical tests would be overseen by a Joint Development Committee. The panel would monitor the various processes involved in the clinical development sessions.

Interestingly, no financial aspects of the deal has been discussed as part of the announcements.

 Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK)’s drug, Keytruda, was approved by the FDA back in September 2014, to treat skin cancer.  It’s scope of treatment is as a programmed death receptor inhibitor, which will strengthen the immune system to fight tumors. Since PD-1s are considered novel solutions to extract hiding cancer tumors there is a significant market for their products. On the other hand, Japanese drug maker Eisai’s lenvatinib was approved in February to treat a common type of thyroid cancer. Earlier in 2011, Halaven was approved and is also used globally, in nearly 60 countries, to treat advanced stages of breast cancer.

Lisa Ray

Lisa Ray primarily covers Retail and Healthcare. Lisa Ray has completed her MBA (Finance) and an avid market tracker. She is a stock market analyst who closely tracks US markets along with other global markets like India. She has been expressing her views for years about markets and also advises various clients.

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