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Max Nisen

Merck Tightens Its Grip on the Lung-Cancer Market

New Keytruda trial data suggest analysts underestimate its sales potential.
Photographer: Daniel Acker

Just about every time Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Merck & Co. Inc. go head-to-head with lung-cancer trial results for their rival immune-boosting cancer drugs, Merck comes out on top. 

It happened again at a face-off Monday at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Chicago. Bristol released trial data suggesting, based on an early analysis, that a combination of its cancer drugs may work best for only for a narrow subset of patients. Merck, on the other hand, released data showing its own combo worked so well in preventing deaths in such a broad swath of patients that shares of smaller companies working on next-generation lung combinations, such as Nektar Therapeutics, fell alongside Bristol's.