Merck KGaA's deal with GlaxoSmithKline plc to develop cancer therapy M7824 enables Merck to pursue a more ambitious development plan than it could have done by going it alone, and provides a template for how it may bring similarly broad programs to market going forward.
The deal marks the second time in the past five years Merck has sought out a large pharma partnership for a high value asset as a means to maximize its value and reach, as quickly as possible.
The first time, Merck was playing catch-up when it partnered its PD-L1 inhibitor Bavencio avelumab with Pfizer Inc. in 2014. Bavencio became the fourth PD-1/PD-L1 to market when FDA approved it in March 2017 to treat Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC).
In contrast, the goal of Merck's partnership with GSK is to maintain the first-in-class lead for M7824, a bispecific fusion protein against PD-L1 and