Drug: MK-3475 (pembrolizumab)
Company: Merck & Co.
Class: Anti-programmed death-1 (PD-1) MAb
2020 sales: $4.06 billion
Net present value: $16.7 billion
Don't count out Merck ($MRK), though. When Roger Perlmutter came in as the new R&D chief, he was forced to set in motion a major R&D restructuring to account for the lengthy dry spell at the well for new approvals. MK-3475, now dubbed pembrolizumab, changed the narrative back to the company's research potential. After executing a slow series of pratfalls on largely second-tier drugs, R&D is now betting heavily that its top contender can deliver a years-long feast of new revenues. This is a drug with major partnering potential, as a whole slate of combo studies now on the drawing board attest to. As a result of their success, the R&D budget is now expected to climb in the second half of this year.
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