Following the news that pembrolizumab may be approved earlier than expected, Pfizer and Merck have announced a partnership to evaluate the PD-1 inhibitor in combination with Pfizer's Xalkori.
Two Big Pharma heavyweights in the cancer field are joining hands on yet another immuno-oncology pact, adding to a long string of combination drug partnerships that promise to amp up the impact of a growing portfolio of cancer therapies. In today's case, Merck ($MRK) and Pfizer ($PFE) have struck a deal to add the PD-1 superstar pembrolizumab to Xalkori for ALK-positive cases of advanced non-small cell lung cancer.
The companies are keeping the terms of the deal private, but Pfizer will take the lead on the Phase Ib study, which launches sometime next year. Both companies now have a full plate of combination pacts to explore. Earlier they had agreed to match Pfizer's Inlyta with pembrolizumab for renal cell carcinoma. Another trial will add Pfizer's experimental drug PF-2566, an IO treatment that targets the human 4-1BB receptor, for multiple cancers.