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Cancer doctors offer key takeaways from American Society of Clinical Oncology conference

Merck's lung cancer-fighting drug Keytruda has just been approved for the treatment of cervical cancer
Cancer in a headline
Attendees at the ASCO conference were also bullish on the combination of Opdivo with Yervoy

An important takeaway to come out of the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference early this month is that Merck’s lung cancer-fighting drug Keytruda is quite similar in its efficacy and safety to Bristol-Myers Squibb Co’s (NYSE:BY) Opdivo.

This insight is the view of two attendees at the ASCO conference,  Dr. Jack Goldberg, chief of hematology and medical oncology at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center and Dr. Igor Genkin who practices in the Bronx with an emphasis on biomarker development.

Both offered opinions on the conference to Oppenheimer analysts.

“These doctors view Keytruda and Opdivo as very similar in terms of efficacy and safety with differences arising from their respective study designs in lung cancer,” wrote Oppenheimer analysts.

The stage three data for AstraZeneca PLC’s (NYSE:AZN) rival drug Imfimzi is also seen by both doctors as compelling and the data on the drug provided at ASCO will likely accelerate utilization, the doctors predict.

Another drug therapy both Goldberg and Genkin are positive on is the combination of Opdivo with Yervoy in lung cancer patients.

Both believe that precision oncology is likely to become “very impactful to their practices” as new emphasis is placed on targeting mutations rather than the cells of origin. They are also bullish on the use of biomarkers in their practices and look forward to future clinical studies.

In other news today, Merck (NYSE:MRK) confirmed that the US Food and Drug Administration has also approved Keytruda, a popular weapon against lung cancer, for the treatment of patients with recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer.

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