Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE: MRK)
It’s always a great treat to report that the heavily subsidized, lobbyist-infused FDA approved a drug to combat a debilitating or fatal disease. In this case, the FDA has approved Keytruda, a combination chemotherapy treatment for frontline lung cancer. Though the approval was expected, the actual stamp of approval lends comfort to the notion that the FDA is still diligently hard at work doing everything it can to bring life-saving medications to market. That’s if you have the cash to lobby the ever-living pockets off the panel.
Oh, here I go again, playing cynic to a regulatory agency that is supposed to be immune from lobbyist pressures and maintaining the ability to independently manage their investigative stature and approve or deny based on drug merit and efficacy.
Sorry, not buying that load of manure.
Merck Gets Keytruda
Yes, Merck gets approval for Keytruda, and perhaps some patients lives will be extended or saved. That’s the best case scenario. For Merck, they may earn some money. Analysts are expecting roughly $3.5 billion in sales in 2017, about $500 million less than what Merck is forecasting. By 2020, BMO Capital predicts sales of more than $10 billion.
The good news, though, remains that patients are being given new opportunities for life. The antiquated FDA, which can now be swayed by advocacy groups faster than a frog spits water, has become a puppet to money and a slave to public opinion. That’s not necessarily bad for patients, but for small and emerging drug companies, it limits the playing field.
In a perfect world of drug approvals, all company names would be blinded from the investigators, allowing them to judge the merits of a drug based solely on how it performs. Leaving out the trips to Martha’s Vineyard on the weekends. These blinded FDA investigation panels may do more good by approving drugs to help the citizens of the United States. True, it may hurt airlines, since people wouldn’t have to travel overseas to receive much needed medical care, but it’s a fair trade in most anyone’s opinion.
Good for Merck, though, and keep on truckin’. Bring as many drugs to market as possible. But, keep the weekend junkets paid for at the travel agency, I would hate to imagine a stressed out FDA panelist with a rubber stamp and ink pad with the power to say NO.
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