In contrast to conventional chemotherapies, Keytruda activates the strength of the immune system in cancer patients. It aims to enable the human body to combat the disease itself. The therapy above all helps in the fight against skin and lung cancer. It was authorized for use in the USA in 2014 and has since generated revenues totaling 7 billion US dollars for Merck&CO, as outlined in an article published in Luzerner Zeitung.
The drug was developed at a Merck&CO (outside of the USA and Canada: MSD) subsidiary in Werthenstein. “We have received a great deal of recognition following the development of Keytruda”, commented site manager Peter Hofstetter in the article. Moreover, the letters of thanks received from patients who have recovered from their illness are touching, Hofstetter explains. For the moment, further research is being conducted into Keytruda in Werthenstein. The aim is to increase the efficacy of the drug and further develop it to combat other cancer indications.
Merck&CO operates four subsidiaries in Switzerland, all of which are located in the Canton of Lucerne. In total, the Group employs 700 staff in the Canton, with 350 of these situated at the site in Werthenstein – and their numbers are on the rise. The site’s management team are said to already be working on additional expansion plans, according to Luzerner Zeitung. The US corporation not only works on cancer therapies in Switzerland, but also develops active ingredients for diabetes, cardiovascular problems, infectious diseases, immunology and vaccines.