The company expects more than 50% of future launches to result from external co-development partnerships and strategic in-licensing of assets for further in-house development.
The company will also build on its established expertise in the underlying biology of its focused therapeutic areas of oncology, neurology, and immunology and will leverage technological capabilities to increase R&D productivity.
The lead asset in the oncology pipeline is xevinapant, an investigational first-in-class potent oral small molecule IAP (Inhibitor of Apoptosis Protein) inhibitor being evaluated in the curative setting of locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.
In neurology and immunology, Merck aims to expand its Multiple Sclerosis (MS) portfolio with evobrutinib, an investigational, oral, CNS-penetrating, highly selective inhibitor of Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) with the potential to become a best-in-class treatment option for relapsing multiple sclerosis (RMS).
Further, the company is looking to diversify the pipeline with immunology and accelerate R&D by focusing on targets with proven biology via novel modalities.
Building on expertise in neurology, the company is initiating a proof-of-concept study in neuromuscular conditions dermatomyositis and polymyositis with enpatoran in 2023.
However, pharmaceutical sales accounted for only about a third of its revenue in the third quarter, with the remainder coming from contract services and electronics.
There are nearly a dozen experimental antibody drug conjugates in its pipeline, two of which have advanced to human testing.