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Opinion
Max Nisen

Merck’s Dangerous Keytruda Success

The drugmaker needs to work harder to untie its fortunes from the cancer drug.

A monitor displays Merck & Co Inc. signage on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., on Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. U.S. stocks were higher after an�explosion rocked midtown Manhattan. The dollar fell and Treasuries rose.
A monitor displays Merck & Co Inc. signage on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., on Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. U.S. stocks were higher after an�explosion rocked midtown Manhattan. The dollar fell and Treasuries rose.Photographer: Bloomberg/Bloomberg

Is it possible for things to go too well for a drugmaker’s most important franchise?

That’s an important question for Merck & Co. Inc. It announced first-quarter earnings Tuesday, and immune-boosting cancer drug Keytruda was the star. The drug’s sales more than doubled from the same period last year, and helped prompt Merck to boost its full-year earnings and sales guidance.