LaunchTrends: Keytruda Wave 3 (US) is the third in a series of syndicated reports designed to track physician perception, uptake, and competitive environment regarding the malignant melanoma drug Keytruda (Merck & Co.’s pembrolizumab).

LaunchTrends: Keytruda measures the impact of this novel agent on the unresectable or metastatic malignant melanoma therapy market following launch, based on a blend of quantitative and qualitative primary research with US medical oncologists. The report evaluates physicians’ current awareness and perception of Keytruda relative to other currently available therapies for unresectable or metastatic malignant melanoma, current and anticipated use of Keytruda, and promotional activity for Keytruda. LaunchTrends: Keytruda Wave 2 and 3 also assess surveyed medical oncologists’ perceptions of Opdivo (Bristol-Myers Squibb’s nivolumab), and Opdivo in combination with Yervoy (Bristol-Myers Squibb’s ipilimumab) following their approval for the treatment of malignant melanoma in December 2014 and October 2015, respectively. Surveyed and interviewed medical oncologists were questioned on their awareness, perception, and prescription of Opdivo with respect to treating malignant melanoma patients.

Questions Answered:

  • What is the awareness of and familiarity with Keytruda and Opdivo among medical oncologists?
  • What are the perceived clinical advantages and disadvantages of Keytruda compared with other marketed agents (including Opdivo) used for treating unresectable or metastatic malignant melanoma?
  •  To what extent are Keytruda, Opdivo, and Opdivo/Yervoy currently being used by surveyed medical oncologists? Where do they fit in the treatment algorithm? What reasons do nonprescribers give for not having prescribed Keytruda?
  •  What promotional messages are being employed by Merck & Co. for Keytruda?

Scope: 

Markets covered: United States.

Primary research: 76 medical oncologists; qualitative interviews with 10 respondents.

Indication coverage: unresectable or metastatic malignant melanoma.

Table of contents

  • Keytruda Launch Tracking (US) Wave 3
    • Key Findings
      • Executive Summary: Awareness and Perceptions of Keytruda and Opdivo
      • Executive Summary: Keytruda and Opdivo Trial and Use
      • Executive Summary: Competitive Landscape and Promotion of Keytruda and Opdivo
    • Benchmarking Keytruda Launch Success vs. Malignant Melanoma and NSCLC Analogues
    • Prescriber and Nonprescriber Profiles
    • Keytruda Awareness and Perceptions
      • Unaided and Aided Awareness of Keytruda
        • Unaided Awareness of Drugs for the Treatment of Unresectable or Metastatic Melanoma
        • Aided Awareness and Level of Familiarity with Opdivo
        • Aided Awareness and Level of Familiarity with Keytruda
        • Awareness of Keytruda's Indication/Setting
        • Awareness of Keytruda's Recommended Dosing Schedule
        • Awareness of Keytruda's Price
      • Familiarity with Keytruda
        • Familiarity with Drugs for the Treatment of Unresectable or Metastatic Melanoma (Wave 3)
        • Level of Familiarity with Keytruda Data
        • Level of Familiarity with Opdivo Data
      • Sources of Familiarity with Keytruda
      • Initial Reaction to and Interest in Keytruda
        • Initial Reaction to and Interest in Keytruda
        • Initial Reaction to and Interest in Opdivo
      • Impressions of Keytruda
        • Perception of Keytruda's Risk-Benefit Profile and Uniqueness
        • Perception of Opdivo's Risk-Benefit Profile and Uniqueness
        • Perceived Advantages and Disadvantages of Keytruda Compared with Currently Available Treatment Options
      • Prescriber and Nonprescriber Profiles
    • Keytruda Trial and Use
      • Willingness to Prescribe
        • Willingness to Prescribe Keytruda
        • Willingness to Prescribe Opdivo
      • Reasons for Not Yet Prescribing
        • Reasons for Not Yet Having Prescribed Keytruda
        • Reasons for Not Yet Having Prescribed Opdivo
        • Key Reasons to Choose Another Agent Over Keytruda
      • Number of Patients Currently Receiving
        • Therapies Used for BRAF-Mutation-Positive, Unresectable or Metastatic Melanoma Patients (Wave 3)
        • Number of Patients Ever Prescribed Keytruda
        • Therapies Used for BRAF Wild-Type Unresectable or Metastatic Melanoma Patients (Wave 3)
        • Impact of Keytruda and Opdivo on Prescription of Other Agents for BRAF-Mutation-Positive, Unresectable or Metastatic Patients (Wave 3)
        • Number of Patients Ever Prescribed Opdivo
        • Impact of Keytruda and Opdivo on Prescription of Other Agents for BRAF Wild-Type, Unresectable or Metastatic Patients (Wave 3)
        • Patient Experience with Keytruda
        • Off-Label Use of Keytruda
        • Off-Label Use of Opdivo
        • Off-Label Use of Keytruda and Opdivo Among Patient Populations
      • Anticipated Keytruda and Opdivo Use
        • Therapies Most Likely to Be Prescribed to Unresectable or Metastatic Melanoma Patients in Different Treatment Scenarios (Wave 3)
        • Willingness to Prescribe Keytruda in Treatment-Naive Patients
        • Willingness to Prescribe Opdivo in Treatment-Naive Patients
        • Patient Inquiries and Requests Regarding Keytruda
        • Expected Prescribing of Keytruda Among Current Nonprescribers
        • Expected Prescribing of Opdivo Among Current Nonprescribers
        • Potential Settings for Keytruda
      • Keytruda and Opdivo Performance on Key Attributes
        • Overall Satisfaction with Keytruda
        • Overall Satisfaction with Opdivo
        • Satisfaction with Keytruda's Efficacy
        • Satisfaction with Opdivo's Efficacy
        • Satisfaction with Keytruda's Safety and Tolerability
        • Satisfaction with Opdivo's Safety and Tolerability
        • Competitive Landscape (Wave 3)
        • Keytruda Attribute Importance and Performance
        • Performance of Keytruda vs. Opdivo (Wave 3)
        • Factors Constraining Keytruda's Adoption
        • Factors Constraining Opdivo's Adoption
    • Effectiveness of Face-to-Face Detailing for Keytruda
      • Keytruda Sales Representative Frequency and Reach
        • Qualitative Quotes
      • Satisfaction with Keytruda Sales Representative
      • Keytruda Message Recall
    • Methodology
    • Appendix
      • Primary Market Research
        • Familiarity with Drugs for the Treatment of Unresectable or Metastatic Melanoma
        • Physician Demographics
        • Therapies Used for BRAF-Mutation-Positive, Unresectable or Metastatic Melanoma Patients
        • Therapies Used for BRAF-Mutation-Negative (Wild-Type), Unresectable or Metastatic Melanoma Patients (from Wave 1 report)
        • Therapies Used for BRAF Wild-Type Unresectable or Metastatic Melanoma Patients
        • Impact of Keytruda on Prescription of Other Agents for BRAF-Mutation-Positive Unresectable or Metastatic Patients (from Wave 1 report)
        • Impact of Keytruda and Opdivo on Prescription of Other Agents for BRAF-Mutation-Positive, Unresectable or Metastatic Patients (from Wave 2 report)
        • Impact of Keytruda on Prescription of Other Agents for BRAF-Mutation-Negative (Wild-Type) Unresectable or Metastatic Patients (from Wave 1 report)
        • Impact of Keytruda and Opdivo on Prescription of Other Agents for BRAF Wild-Type Unresectable or Metastatic Patients (from Wave 2 report)
        • Coordination of Keytruda Dosing Schedules
        • Competitive Landscape
        • Importance of Attributes in Influencing Prescribing Decisions
        • Performance of Keytruda
        • Therapies Most Likely to Be Prescribed to Unresectable or Metastatic Melanoma Patients in Different Treatment Scenarios
      • Additional Information
        • Coordination of Keytruda Dosing Schedules (Wave 3)
        • Background, Market News, and Objectives
        • Case Study #1: BRAF-Mutation-Positive, Yervoy-Treated Patient with Aggressive Disease
        • Managed Care Approval Process
        • Case Study #2: BRAF-Mutation-Positive, Yervoy-Treated Patient with Brain Metastases (from Wave 2 report)
        • Managed Care Requirements for Keytruda
        • Influence of Managed Care on Prescribing of Keytruda
        • Restrictions on Duration of Keytruda Treatment

Author(s): Rachel Webster; Paul Wilcock. PhD

Rachel Webster , is a senior director in the oncology and biosimilars team at Decision Resources Group, where she manages a team of analysts in producing syndicated primary and secondary market research reports on a wide range of oncology indications. She also provides sales and client support for all oncology products. Previously, Dr. Webster was a senior analyst in the oncology group at Decision Resources. Dr. Webster has extensive experience in market forecasting with detailed expertise in cancer immunotherapies, prostate cancer, gastric cancer, and malignant melanoma. Dr Webster is also experienced in conducting primary research with physicians and payers in a wide range of oncology indications across the major pharmaceutical markets. Prior to joining Decision Resources Group, Dr. Webster was a research scientist at Immunocore in the target validation group, where her research focused on identifying target antigens expressed in cancers and autoimmune diseases using a proprietary T-cell receptor (TCR) technology platform, molecular biology and phage display techniques. Dr. Webster obtained her , in biochemistry, and (Hons) in biological sciences, from the University of Oxford.

Since October 2015, Dr. Wilcock has been a Business Insights Analyst in the oncology team at Decision Resources Group. He has experience in various indications including metastatic malignant melanoma and renal cell carcinoma, and will have a major focus on gastric cancer going forward. Previously, Dr. Wilcock was a Research Funding Manager at Cancer Research UK, where he developed a deep understanding of drug discovery, predominantly in the academic setting. He gained his doctorate from the University of Manchester where he utilized Systems Biology to explore the role of cell signaling and hypoxia in oral cancer.


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