The pharmaceutical giant raked in $40.1 billion in global sales in 2017, an increase of 1% from the year before. Merck’s superstar cancer immunotherapy drug Keytruda has continued to be the big performer; it alone brought in $1.46 billion in the first quarter of this year—an increase of 150% from the same time period last year. Success has been a mixed blessing, however. Keytruda now plays an outsize role in Merck’s portfolio, responsible for about 15% of the company’s sales. Moreover, plans to expand the drug’s applications have hit a snag: A collaboration with the biotech research firm Incyte to combine the drug with another experimental therapy was halted.
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