Merck’s cancer drug giant Keytruda has helped the Big Pharma top how oncologists see cancer drug makers, but no one company is dominating the field.

That’s according to the latest report from analysts at ZoomRx that recently asked 50 oncologists about their perceptions of various pharma manufacturers in the oncology space.

The survey found that Merck came out on top, but only just, holding a slim lead and backed by the success of Keytruda. ZoomRx notes, however, that the company’s “reliance on a single product raises questions about long-term sustainability.”

ZoomRx measures perceptions from oncologists using a scoring system out of 100 across 30 major cancer drug makers. The 100 score comes from a weighted system of five core areas, namely: promotion metrics; patient-centricity; reputation; innovation; and HCP-centricity.

Merck scored 80 out of 100, narrowly beating second-placed AstraZeneca by one point. AstraZeneca “emerges as a strong challenger,” the analysts report, given its more diverse portfolio than Merck from its drugs Tagrisso, Lynparza, Enhertu, Calquence and Imfinzi. It’s also seen recent positive trial results in experimental cancer therapies, leading AstraZeneca to be “poised to challenge Merck's lead,” ZoomRx said.

There was a large drop to Bristol Myers Squibb in third with 62 points, with ZoomRx noting that BMS “struggles with innovation.” Its big cancer immunotherapies Opdivo and Yervoy “remain strong” in the eyes of doctors, but the company's acquired drugs from its M&A deals “haven't delivered significant results,” the analysts said.

Novartis brought up the rear with just 14 points. The company needs "acquisitions" to "strengthen" its pipeline, according to ZoomRx.

Key takeaways include the importance of patient support programs and how competitive the market is. “Oncologists highly value patient support programs alongside a strong portfolio and new treatment options,” the report’s authors said while seeing the oncology landscape as “fiercely competitive.”

A key move is to diversify the portfolio: Relying on one key drug, like Merck and Keytruda, won’t win out in the longer term, Instead, multiple, innovative assets are the way forward.

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