Merck Announces KEYNOTE-598 Trial Evaluating KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) in Combination With Ipilimumab Versus KEYTRUDA Monotherapy in Certain Patients With Metastatic Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer To Stop for Futility and Patients to Discontinue Ipilimumab

KENILWORTH, NJ, USA I November 9, 2020 I Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, today announced that it will be stopping KEYNOTE-598, a Phase 3 trial investigating KEYTRUDA, Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy, in combination with ipilimumab (Yervoy®), compared with KEYTRUDA monotherapy, for the first-line treatment of patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors express PD-L1 (tumor proportion score [TPS] ≥50%) with no EGFR or ALK genomic tumor aberrations. Merck is discontinuing the study following the recommendation of an independent Data Monitoring Committee (DMC), which determined the benefit/risk profile of the combination did not support continuing the trial. At an interim analysis, the combination of KEYTRUDA and ipilimumab showed no incremental benefit in overall survival (OS) or progression-free survival (PFS), the study’s dual primary endpoints, compared with KEYTRUDA alone and crossed futility boundaries. No new safety signals for KEYTRUDA monotherapy were observed, however the combination of KEYTRUDA and ipilimumab was associated with a higher incidence of grade 3-5 adverse events (AEs), serious AEs, and AEs leading to discontinuation or death, compared with KEYTRUDA monotherapy. Merck will inform study investigators of the recommendation from the DMC and the DMC is advising that patients in the study discontinue treatment with ipilimumab/placebo. Data from this study will be submitted for presentation at an upcoming scientific congress and communicated to regulatory agencies.

“We conducted KEYNOTE-598 in order to explicitly explore whether combining our anti-PD-1 therapy, KEYTRUDA, with ipilimumab provided additional benefits beyond treatment with KEYTRUDA alone in the metastatic non-small cell lung cancer setting,” said Dr. Roy Baynes, senior vice president and head of global clinical development, chief medical officer, Merck Research Laboratories. “It is very clear that in this study, the addition of ipilimumab did not add clinical benefit but did add toxicity. KEYTRUDA monotherapy remains a standard of care for the treatment of certain patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer whose tumors express PD-L1.”

While the combination of an anti-PD-1 therapy plus ipilimumab has been approved in certain indications, studies supporting these approvals have, for the most part, not compared the combination directly with anti-PD-1 monotherapy. Bristol Myers Squibb has reported topline results of CheckMate-915, a Phase 3 study in adjuvant melanoma that directly compared treatment with ipilimumab in combination with an anti-PD-1 therapy versus the anti-PD-1 therapy alone. In two separate news releases issued over the last year, the company announced the study did not meet its co-primary endpoints in the all-comer population or in patients whose tumors expressed PD-L1 <1%. These data have not yet been presented.

Merck has an extensive clinical development program in lung cancer and is advancing multiple registration-enabling studies with KEYTRUDA in combination with other treatments and as monotherapy. The lung program is evaluating KEYTRUDA across all stages of disease and lines of therapy in over 200 trials with more than 10,000 patients.

About KEYNOTE-598

KEYNOTE-598 (ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03302234) is a randomized, double-blind, Phase 3 trial investigating KEYTRUDA in combination with ipilimumab compared to KEYTRUDA monotherapy for the first-line treatment of patients with metastatic NSCLC whose tumors express PD‑L1 (TPS ≥50%) with no EGFR or ALK genomic tumor aberrations. The dual primary endpoints are OS and PFS. Secondary endpoints include objective response rate, duration of response and safety. The study enrolled 568 patients who were randomized (1:1) to receive:

  • KEYTRUDA (200 mg intravenously [IV] on Day 1 of each three-week cycle for up to 35 cycles) in combination with ipilimumab (1 mg/kg IV on Day 1 of each six-week cycle for up to 18 cycles); or
  • KEYTRUDA (200 mg IV on Day 1 of each three-week cycle for up to 35 cycles) in combination with placebo (IV on Day 1 of each six-week cycle for up to 18 cycles).

About Lung Cancer

Lung cancer, which forms in the tissues of the lungs, usually within cells lining the air passages, is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than die of colon and breast cancers combined. The two main types of lung cancer are non-small cell and small cell. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for about 85% of all cases. Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) accounts for about 10% to 15% of all lung cancers. Before 2014, the five-year survival rate for patients diagnosed in the U.S. with NSCLC and SCLC was estimated to be 5% and 6%, respectively.

About KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Injection, 100 mg

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 1,200 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.

Selected KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Indications

Melanoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma.

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the adjuvant treatment of patients with melanoma with involvement of lymph node(s) following complete resection.

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.

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 1 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.

Head and Neck Squamous Cell 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 with 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 head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) with disease progression on or after platinum-containing chemotherapy.

Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL).

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of pediatric patients with refractory cHL, or cHL that has relapsed after 2 or more lines of therapy.

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. KEYTRUDA is not recommended for treatment of patients with PMBCL who require urgent cytoreductive therapy.

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 [combined positive score (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 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.

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG)-unresponsive, high-risk, non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) with carcinoma in situ (CIS) with or without papillary tumors who are ineligible for or have elected not to undergo cystectomy.

Microsatellite Instability-High or Mismatch Repair Deficient 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.

Microsatellite Instability-High or Mismatch Repair Deficient Colorectal Cancer

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with unresectable or metastatic MSI-H or dMMR colorectal cancer (CRC).

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.

Esophageal Cancer

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with recurrent locally advanced or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus whose tumors express PD-L1 (CPS ≥10) as determined by an FDA-approved test, with disease progression after one or more prior lines of systemic therapy.

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.

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.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients with recurrent locally advanced or metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). 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.

Renal Cell Carcinoma

KEYTRUDA, in combination with axitinib, is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC).

Tumor Mutational Burden-High

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients with unresectable or metastatic tumor mutational burden-high (TMB-H) [≥10 mutations/megabase (mut/Mb)] solid tumors, as determined by an FDA-approved test, that have progressed following prior treatment and who have no satisfactory alternative treatment options. 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 TMB-H central nervous system cancers have not been established.

Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with recurrent or metastatic cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) that is not curable by surgery or radiation.

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 125 years, Merck, 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 in pursuit of our mission to save and improve lives. We demonstrate our commitment to patients and population health by increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. Today, Merck continues to be at the forefront of research to prevent and treat diseases that threaten people and animals – including cancer, infectious diseases such as HIV and Ebola, and emerging animal diseases – as we aspire to be the premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical company in the world. For more information, visit www.merck.com and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.

SOURCE: Merck

La Merie Biologics

FREE Weekly News Bulletin

Sign Up

2020 Sales ofAntibodies & Proteins

New Product Alert

For La Merie Publishing

Sign Up

Top