Merck's Keytruda speeds its I-O market-share grab as Bristol-Myers' Opdivo declines

Merck's Keytruda now controls 32% of the immuno-oncology market, June Symphony Health data says.

The latest immuno-oncology market-share numbers are out, and they show that Merck & Co.’s Keytruda is not only gaining on Bristol-Myers Squibb archrival Opdivo, but it’s picked up the pace, too.

Over the course of June, Keytruda’s share increased by four percentage points to 32% “at the expense of” Opdivo, Leerink Partners analyst Seamus Fernandez wrote in a Wednesday note to clients, citing sales data from Symphony Health.

That data suggests “a greater month-over-month improvement for Keytruda than in months past,” he added. Bristol-Myers' overall I-O share, which includes Yervoy’s piece of the pie, dropped to 61% from 64%.

Free Daily Newsletter

Like this story? Subscribe to FiercePharma!

Biopharma is a fast-growing world where big ideas come along daily. Our subscribers rely on FiercePharma as their must-read source for the latest news, analysis and data on drugs and the companies that make them. Sign up today to get pharma news and updates delivered to your inbox and read on the go.

RELATED: The top 15 best-selling cancer drugs in 2022 - Keytruda

Now approved for a half-dozen cancer types, Opdivo jumped to an early I-O lead after leapfrogging first-to-market Keytruda with its quick lung cancer approval, and it still leads with 46% of the market. But Keytruda has blown past it in the all-important lung cancer space. Merck’s contender has racked up both monotherapy and combo frontline approvals, while Bristol-Myers'—which has already flopped as a monotherapy in previously untreated patients—likely won’t even have its combo data until early next year.

Keytruda has gone on a recent approval spree, too, adding a nod in microsatellite instability-high cancer, netting a bladder cancer green light and bagging a priority review in stomach cancer. 

RELATED: With ASCO data tallied, Bristol-Myers loses ground to Merck in I-O field

That’s not to say Opdivo hasn’t chalked up regulatory wins of its own. For one, the med snagged a priority review in liver cancer in May. But lately, new Keytruda data has prompted industry watchers to ask whether Bristol is “falling behind”; in a post-ASCO article, Barron’s wrote that “in the near-term the fight is uphill” for the New Jersey drugmaker.

Meanwhile, the two are hardly alone on the immuno-oncology front. Bristol-Myers' Yervoy, the first-ever approved immunotherapy, still holds a 15% piece of the pie, Fernandez said, good for the No. 3 spot. Roche’s Tecentriq, first approved last May in bladder cancer, “has remained steady at 7% market share since the beginning of 2017,” he wrote, while Bavencio and Imfinzibrand-new meds from the Pfizer-Merck KGaA team and AstraZeneca, respectivelyhave so far “achieved only a nominal share.”