European Medicines Agency Adopts Positive Opinion for Merck’s KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) in Combination with Inlyta® (axitinib) as First-Line Treatment for Advanced Renal Cell Carcinoma

Opinion Granted Based on Significant Overall Survival Benefit for KEYTRUDA in Combination with Axitinib Compared to Sunitinib in Phase 3 KEYNOTE-426 Trial

KENILWORTH, NJ, USA I July 29, 2019 I Merck (NYSE:MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, today announced that the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has adopted a positive opinion recommending approval of KEYTRUDA, Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy, in combination with Inlyta (axitinib), a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, for the first-line treatment of patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC). This recommendation, which applies to all IMDC risk groups, is based on findings from the pivotal Phase 3 KEYNOTE-426 trial, which demonstrated significant improvements in overall survival (OS), progression-free survival (PFS) and objective response rate (ORR) for KEYTRUDA in combination with axitinib compared to sunitinib.

“For patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma, the prognosis is poor, with a five-year survival rate of less than 10%,” said Dr. Scot Ebbinghaus, vice president, clinical research, Merck Research Laboratories. “The positive opinion adopted by the EMA, which is based on data showing KEYTRUDA in combination with axitinib significantly improved overall survival regardless of PD-L1 expression, is an important step toward a new first-line treatment option for these patients.”

These data were presented for the first time at the 2019 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium (ASCO GU) and published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The CHMP’s recommendation will now be reviewed by the European Commission for marketing authorization in the European Union, and a final decision is expected in the third quarter of 2019.

About Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC) in Europe

Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is by far the most common type of kidney cancer; about 9 out of 10 kidney cancers are renal cell carcinomas. Renal cell carcinoma is about twice as common in men as in women. Modifiable risk factors include smoking, obesity, workplace exposure to certain substances and high blood pressure. There were approximately 403,000 cases of kidney cancer diagnosed worldwide in 2018 and about 175,000 deaths from the disease. In Europe, it is estimated that 136,500 new cases of kidney cancer were diagnosed in 2018 and approximately 54,700 people died from the disease.

About KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Injection

KEYTRUDA is an anti-PD-1 therapy that works by increasing the ability of the body’s immune system to help detect and fight tumor cells. KEYTRUDA is a humanized monoclonal antibody that blocks the interaction between PD-1 and its ligands, PD-L1 and PD-L2, thereby activating T lymphocytes which may affect both tumor cells and healthy cells.

Merck has the industry’s largest immuno-oncology clinical research program. There are currently more than 1,000 trials studying KEYTRUDA across a wide variety of cancers and treatment settings. The KEYTRUDA clinical program seeks to understand the role of KEYTRUDA across cancers and the factors that may predict a patient’s likelihood of benefitting from treatment with KEYTRUDA, including exploring several different biomarkers.

KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Indications and Dosing

Melanoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma. The recommended dose of KEYTRUDA in patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma is 200 mg administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every three weeks until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity.

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the adjuvant treatment of patients with melanoma with involvement of lymph node(s) following complete resection. The recommended dose of KEYTRUDA for the adjuvant treatment of adult patients with melanoma is 200 mg administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every three weeks until disease recurrence, unacceptable toxicity, or for up to 12 months in patients without disease recurrence.

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

KEYTRUDA, in combination with pemetrexed and platinum chemotherapy, is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with metastatic nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), with no EGFR or ALK genomic tumor aberrations.

KEYTRUDA, in combination with carboplatin and either paclitaxel or paclitaxel protein-bound, is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with metastatic squamous NSCLC.

KEYTRUDA, as a single agent, is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with NSCLC expressing PD-L1 [tumor proportion score (TPS) ≥1%] as determined by an FDA-approved test, with no EGFR or ALK genomic tumor aberrations, and is stage III where patients are not candidates for surgical resection or definitive chemoradiation, or metastatic.

KEYTRUDA, as a single agent, is indicated for the treatment of patients with metastatic NSCLC whose tumors express PD-L1 (TPS ≥1%) as determined by an FDA-approved test, with disease progression on or after platinum-containing chemotherapy. Patients with EGFR or ALK genomic tumor aberrations should have disease progression on FDA-approved therapy for these aberrations prior to receiving KEYTRUDA.

In NSCLC, the recommended dose of KEYTRUDA is 200 mg administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every three weeks until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression.

When administering KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy, KEYTRUDA should be administered prior to chemotherapy when given on the same day. See also the Prescribing Information for the chemotherapy agents administered in combination with KEYTRUDA, as appropriate.

Small Cell Lung Cancer

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with metastatic small cell lung cancer (SCLC) with disease progression on or after platinum-based chemotherapy and at least one other prior line of therapy. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and durability of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trials. In SCLC, the recommended dose of KEYTRUDA is 200 mg administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every three weeks until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression.

Head and Neck Cancer

KEYTRUDA, in combination with platinum and fluorouracil (FU), is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with metastatic or with unresectable, recurrent head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).

KEYTRUDA, as a single agent, is indicated for the first line treatment of patients with metastatic or unresectable, recurrent HNSCC whose tumors express PD-L1 [combined positive score (CPS) ≥1] as determined by an FDA-approved test.

KEYTRUDA, as a single agent, is indicated for the treatment of patients with recurrent or metastatic HNSCC with disease progression on or after platinum-containing chemotherapy.

In HNSCC, the recommended dose of KEYTRUDA is 200 mg administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every 3 weeks until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression.

When administering KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy, administer KEYTRUDA prior to chemotherapy when given on the same day. Refer to the Prescribing Information for the chemotherapy agents administered in combination with KEYTRUDA for recommended dosing information, as appropriate.

Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients with refractory classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL), or who have relapsed after 3 or more prior lines of therapy. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and durability of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials. In adults with cHL, KEYTRUDA 200 mg is administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every three weeks until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression. In pediatric patients with cHL, KEYTRUDA is administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes at a dose of 2 mg/kg (up to a maximum of 200 mg) every three weeks until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression.

Primary Mediastinal Large B-Cell Lymphoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients with refractory primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma (PMBCL), or who have relapsed after 2 or more prior lines of therapy. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and durability of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trials. KEYTRUDA is not recommended for the treatment of patients with PMBCL who require urgent cytoreductive therapy.

In adults with PMBCL, KEYTRUDA 200 mg is administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every three weeks until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression. In pediatric patients with PMBCL, KEYTRUDA is administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes at a dose of 2 mg/kg (up to a maximum of 200 mg) every three weeks until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression.

Urothelial Carcinoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma (mUC) who are not eligible for cisplatin-containing chemotherapy and whose tumors express PD-L1 [ CPS ≥10] as determined by an FDA-approved test, or in patients who are not eligible for any platinum-containing chemotherapy regardless of PD-L1 status. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and duration of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials.

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma (mUC) who have disease progression during or following platinum-containing chemotherapy or within 12 months of neoadjuvant or adjuvant treatment with platinum-containing chemotherapy.

In locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma, KEYTRUDA 200 mg is administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every three weeks until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression.

Microsatellite Instability-High (MSI-H) Cancer

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients with unresectable or metastatic microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) or mismatch repair deficient (dMMR)

  • solid tumors that have progressed following prior treatment and who have no satisfactory alternative treatment options, or
  • colorectal cancer that has progressed following treatment with fluoropyrimidine, oxaliplatin, and irinotecan.

This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and durability of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials. The safety and effectiveness of KEYTRUDA in pediatric patients with MSI-H central nervous system cancers have not been established.

In adult patients with MSI-H cancer, KEYTRUDA 200 mg is administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every three weeks until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression. In pediatric patients with MSI-H cancer, KEYTRUDA is administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes at a dose of 2 mg/kg (up to a maximum of 200 mg) every three weeks until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression.

Gastric Cancer

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with recurrent locally advanced or metastatic gastric or gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) adenocarcinoma whose tumors express PD-L1 (CPS ≥1) as determined by an FDA-approved test, with disease progression on or after two or more prior lines of therapy including fluoropyrimidine- and platinum-containing chemotherapy and if appropriate, HER2/neu-targeted therapy. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and durability of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials. The recommended dose of KEYTRUDA is 200 mg as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every three weeks until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression.

Cervical Cancer

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer with disease progression on or after chemotherapy whose tumors express PD-L1 (CPS ≥1) as determined by an FDA-approved test. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and durability of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials. The recommended dose of KEYTRUDA is 200 mg as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every three weeks until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression.

Hepatocellular Carcinoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) who have been previously treated with sorafenib. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and durability of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials. The recommended dose of KEYTRUDA is 200 mg as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every three weeks until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients with recurrent locally advanced or metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and durability of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials. The recommended dose of KEYTRUDA in adults is 200 mg administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every three weeks until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression. The recommended dose of KEYTRUDA in pediatric patients is 2 mg/kg (up to a maximum of 200 mg), administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every three weeks until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression.

Renal Cell Carcinoma

KEYTRUDA, in combination with axitinib, is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC). In RCC, KEYTRUDA 200 mg is administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every 3 weeks in combination with 5 mg axitinib orally twice daily until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity, or for KEYTRUDA, up to 24 months in patients without disease progression. When axitinib is used in combination with KEYTRUDA, dose escalation of axitinib above the initial 5 mg dose may be considered at intervals of six weeks or longer. See also the Prescribing Information for recommended axitinib dosing information.

Merck’s Focus on Cancer

Our goal is to translate breakthrough science into innovative oncology medicines to help people with cancer worldwide. At Merck, the potential to bring new hope to people with cancer drives our purpose and supporting accessibility to our cancer medicines is our commitment. As part of our focus on cancer, Merck is committed to exploring the potential of immuno-oncology with one of the largest development programs in the industry across more than 30 tumor types. We also continue to strengthen our portfolio through strategic acquisitions and are prioritizing the development of several promising oncology candidates with the potential to improve the treatment of advanced cancers. For more information about our oncology clinical trials, visit www.merck.com/clinicaltrials.

About Merck

For more than a century, Merck, a leading global biopharmaceutical company known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world's most challenging diseases. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. Today, Merck continues to be at the forefront of research to advance the prevention and treatment of diseases that threaten people and communities around the world - including cancer, cardio-metabolic diseases, emerging animal diseases, Alzheimer's disease and infectious diseases including HIV and Ebola. For more information, visit www.merck.com and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.

SOURCE: Merck

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