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Merck KGaA Aims To Launch One New Product Or Major Indication Every 1.5 Years On Average

While providing updates on the company's healthcare research and development strategy, aimed at doubling R&D productivity on Monday, German science and technology firm Merck KGaA (MKGAY.PK) said it will focus its expertise and capabilities and leverage synergies within the existing pipeline to deliver transformative medicines in Oncology, Neurology and Immunology, augmented by an increased focus on external innovation.

This will help it achieve the goal of introducing one new product or major indication every 1.5 years on average. The company expects more than 50% of future launches to result from external co-development partnerships and strategic in-licensing of assets for further in-house development.

The company will also build on its established expertise in the underlying biology of its focused therapeutic areas of oncology, neurology and immunology and will leverage technological capabilities to increase R&D productivity.

The company's oncology research and development strategy centers on cancer DNA while building on existing leadership in key cancer types, including head and neck, urothelial and colorectal cancers.

The lead asset in the oncology pipeline is xevinapant, an investigational first-in-class potent oral small molecule IAP (Inhibitor of Apoptosis Protein) inhibitor being evaluated in the curative setting of locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.

In neurology and immunology, Merck aims to expand its Multiple Sclerosis (MS) portfolio with evobrutinib, an investigational, oral, CNS-penetrating, highly selective inhibitor of Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK) with the potential to become a best-in-class treatment option for relapsing multiple sclerosis (RMS).

Merck also seeks to expand in neurology by evaluating the potential of oral cladribine in neurological diseases where inflammation is a primary driver, such as generalized myasthenia gravis.

Further, the company is looking to diversify the pipeline with immunology and accelerate R&D by focusing on targets with proven biology via novel modalities.

Building on expertise in neurology, the company is initiating a proof-of-concept study in neuromuscular conditions dermatomyositis and polymyositis with enpatoran in 2023.

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