Keytruda is a new cancer drug for fighting melanoma.  Before I get into the media rating and momentum building behind this drug, I’d first like to share my enthusiasm for the research that has gone into developing these new PD-1 (up +3 points or 7 percent at 43), or immunotherapy (up +1 point or 2 percent at 63) drugs.  The science and evolution behind their development is simply amazing.  If you haven’t had the chance to checkout the PBS special on the developments in Cancer treatments, I encourage you to take a look, but bring some Kleenex as there are some very emotional segments.

The media rating of Merck’s latest melanoma drug Keytruda is up +4 points or 12 percent at 33 based on strong media coverage for the new PD-1 treatment.  Now a 33 media rating is not that strong.  Actually, it is considered relatively low in the broader media.  Momentum and 4-year CUME growth are both very strong and that is what makes for a strong, trending brand.  Momentum is +8% for March 2015 posting 8 consecutive monthly gains.  CUME (cumulative growth) is strong at+22%.

The broad immunotherapy trend has been seeing increasing media coverage after a series of major research announcements in early 2013.  Media coverage growth and momentum are moderate to low.  Immunotherapy is slightly down in the rankings (-2 positions over the prior month) with no change over the prior year (March 2014).

Zelboraf is another late-stage skin cancer or melanoma drug that has been on the market considerably longer than Keytruda.  A joint development between Plexxikon (now part of Daiichi-Sankyo) and Genentech, the media rating for Zelboraf is slightly lower then Keytruda at 26 points, down -10 or nearly -40 percent over the prior month.  Many immunotherapy mediations are completing clinical trials or entering FDA approval cycles, drawing most of the drug media coverage away from older therapies and treatments.  The good news is that recent PD-1 advances along with unrelated alzheimer’s drug development are attracting more story coverage and social media discussions.

Keytruda and Zelboraf both treat skin cancer, primarily during later stages of the disease in patients.  The condition itself has been receiving consistent media coverage the prior 4-year period.  CUME growth is essentially flat at +1% suggesting the topic is hitting a coverage plateau.  Media momentum is not showing any upside with 4-months of declining media interest.

The PD-1 and immunotherapy media coverage is showing steady volumes with Merck’s Keytruda treatment drawing moderate coverage volumes.  The overall condition topic is holding steady between 78 and 80 points with declining media momentum.  Broad media interest beyond industry trades publications appears to be building behind PD-1 and immunotherapy as more drug makers announce PD-1 based clinical trials and move towards FDA approval.

Paul