MSD Korea’s cancer immunotherapy drug ‘Keytruda (pembrolizumab)’ recorded the number 1 sales in the prescription drug market in Korea as its sales exceeded 40 billion won in the first quarter of this year.
After Keytruda was approved as a second-line treatment by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety in 2015, recently it was successfully converted to a first-line treatment seven years after its launch in Korea.
According to IQVIA, a pharmaceutical survey institute on May 23rd, Keytruda recorded the sales of 40.4 billion won in the first quarter of this year. Keytruda is a blockbuster drug that achieves annual sales of 1 billion dollars (about 1.2 trillion won) as a single product.
Global Data, a market research firm, predicts that Keytruda will take the top spot in the global pharmaceutical sales ranking in 2025.
Currently, the most sold pharmaceutical product is AbbVie's autoimmune disease drug 'Humira (adalimumab)', which has been on the top spot for 10 years.
‘Keytruda’ has continued to be the leader since taking the first place in the domestic prescription drug market in 2020.
The main clinical trials for expanding the first-line treatment by ‘Keytruda’ are KEYNOTE-189, KEYNOTE-407, and KEYNOTE-024, which are metastatic and advanced (Stage IV) non-small cell lung cancer studies.
According to the clinical results, the patients who had undergone the first-line treatment with 'Keytruda' showed a survival period of about twice as long as that of chemotherapy, which had been a standard treatment. High response rates and improved quality of life were also confirmed.
‘Keytruda’ recorded 200.1 billion won in sales in Korea alone last year.
MSD Korea explained that 'Keytruda' can be used as an insured drug for the patients with Hodgkin's lymphoma who are unable to undergo transplantation of autologous stem cells or for those whose disease has recurred or progressed since transplantation of autologous stem cells regardless of the prior use of existing standard treatments, as insurance coverage has been expanded since March this year.
An official from the company said, "We will continue to work hard, hoping that the treatment benefits of Keytruda, which is recognized as a global standard treatment, will be delivered to more domestic patients."
[WIKI KOREA=Kim Sun, Reporter]