Merck & Co. Cements Lead in Lung Cancer as Bristol-Myers Fizzles

(Bloomberg) -- Merck & Co. might have just shut the door on rival Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. as investors weigh new data that could reshape the treatment of lung cancer, by far the deadliest form of disease in the U.S.

Merck’s Keytruda with chemotherapy showed “practice-changing” results in a study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting. While Bristol-Myers’s drug combination also met its goal in certain set of patients, the company still doesn’t have overall survival data and doctors may not see enough benefit yet to adopt a regimen that would require additional patient screening.

Bristol-Myers needed a home run to close the gap with Merck, which won approval for Keytruda in lung cancer last May based on an early trial. While it isn’t the worst-case scenario for Bristol-Myers that Credit Suisse said could send the shares down as much as 6 percent, it’s unlikely to spark a major rebound in a stock has slumped 15 percent over the past two months.

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