Merck & Co Resumes Islatravir HIV Studies After Safety Concerns, But Abandons PrEP Approach
Maintains Belief In Oral Long-Acting Regimen
After a nine-month US FDA-imposed pause, Merck is relaunching its studies of islatravir with a lower dose, while also abandoning its use in PrEP studies.
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Even with top-seller Biktarvy and its preventive therapy, Descovy, protected beyond this decade from generics, Gilead is investing aggressively in long-acting HIV candidates and its oncology pipeline.
Merck Research Laboratories president Dean Li said there is no ideal product mix for the company, but noted cancer drugs will remain a priority given the groundwork Keytruda laid for Merck in oncology.
The company has eight lung cancer trials running and plans for nine by the end of the year, including five with Trodelvy alone. Gilead is also looking ahead to an FDA verdict on lenacapavir.