Merck KGaA says it can catch up in immuno-oncology with Pfizer's help

Merck KGaA, long plagued by clinical setbacks, is pushing into Phase III with a Pfizer ($PFE)-partnered cancer treatment, believing it can eventually catch up with rivals already on the market. The German company kicked off a late-stage lung cancer trial on avelumab, an antibody that blocks PD-L1 to activate immune cells, and healthcare chief Belen Garijo told Reuters the drugmaker has a plan to contend with Merck ($MRK), Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) and others by pursuing trials in underserved cancer types. Pfizer bought into avelumab in a sweeping collaboration deal last year. More