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Merck’s Welireg becomes first drug for rare VHL tumours in US

August 16, 2021


The drug is part of Merck’s efforts to expand its oncology portfolio and reduce its reliance on big-selling cancer immunotherapy Keytruda (pembrolizumab), which is patent protected in the US and Europe until 2028.

Welireg (belzutifan), an oral HIF-2 alpha inhibitor, has been approved by the FDA for adults with von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease, an inherited condition caused by a mutation in the VHL gene that can cause tumours to develop in various organs of the body.

The FDA has approved Welireg for VHL-associated tumours in the kidney, central nervous system, and pancreas that don’t require immediate surgery – making it the first and only approved systemic therapy for this type of tumour.

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