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Merck KGaA, GSK suffer lung cancer drug setback

Reuters - 20/01/2021 - Merck KGaA's drug development programme has suffered a setback with its most important experimental drug, cancer treatment bintrafusp alfa, failing early in its lead trial. In a statement on Wednesday, Merck KGaA said independent supervisors of the late-stage study, which was testing the drug against U.S. namesake Merck & Co's bestseller Keytruda in newly diagnosed cases of a certain type of lung cancer, concluded the drug was unlikely to show the desired effect. The failure also puts a damper on the oncology ambitions of Britain's GlaxoSmithKline, which is co-developing the drug with Merck under a 2019 agreement that could have seen it pay up to 3.7 billion euros ($4.5 billion) to the German company. Merck KGaA's shares dropped as much as 7% after the news that the INTR@PID Lung 037 trial was stopped but pared losses to trade 3.1% lower at 1455 GMT. GSK dropped 2.1% while the STOXX Europe 600 Health Care index was little changed.

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