Merck's Keytruda close to becoming top-selling drug in the world

Merck's cancer drug Keytruda is catching up to AbbVie's Humira as the highest selling drug in the world. Merck reported Oct. 28 that Keytruda brought in a record $4.5 billion in revenue in the third quarter, a 22 percent increase from 2020. 

Keytruda, which has been approved to treat 30 types of cancer, is currently the second best-selling drug in the world, bringing in $14.4 billion in sales in 2020. AbbVie's Humira, a rheumatoid arthritis treatment, is the top-selling drug in the world, bringing in $19.8 billion in 2020. 

And while Keytruda's patent doesn't expire until 2028, the FDA in October approved the first interchangeable biosimilar for Humira. 

AbbVie reported Oct. 29 that sales of Humira were down 10.1 percent in the third quarter, with net revenues totaling $4.6 billion. It cited biosimilar competition as the reason its international net revenue for Humira was down 14.6 percent, to $812 million. 

Merck also raised the price of Keytruda by 2 percent in September, according to 46Brooklyn, a nonprofit drug research firm. Keytruda's website says the list price of Keytruda is $10,067.36 per dose when given every three weeks. The average monthly cash price of Humira is $9,065, according to prescription drug comparison website GoodRx.

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