FDA Expands Approval of Pembrolizumab for First-Line Treatment of NSCLC


“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently granted accelerated approval to the immune checkpoint inhibitor pembrolizumab (Keytruda) for use in combination with chemotherapy as a first-line treatment for patients with metastatic non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

“This new approval of pembrolizumab was based on the results of the phase II KEYNOTE-021 clinical trial of 123 patients with advanced or metastatic nonsquamous NSCLC without mutations in the EGFR gene or alterations in the ALK gene, for which there are existing targeted therapies. Patients in the trial had not been treated previously and were randomly assigned to receive either pembrolizumab plus chemotherapy or chemotherapy alone.”

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FDA Aims to Expand Early-Approval Program for Promising Drugs


“The Food and Drug Administration wants to help patients get faster access to promising cancer treatments.

“The agency is preparing proposals that would expand an accelerated-approval program for lifesaving medications, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told House lawmakers on Thursday.

“Drugmakers can seek rapid conditional approval for treatments for cancer or other serious diseases based on evidence that a drug is likely to extend patient survival. Later trials once such a drug is on the market are necessary to prove the survival benefit.”

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Roche's New-Drug Strategy Buoyed by Lung-Cancer Study


“Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG, seeking to expand uses for its drug Tecentriq beyond bladder cancer, said on Thursday a study had shown the new immunotherapy helped people with lung cancer live longer than with chemotherapy.

“The world’s biggest maker of cancer drugs is seeking U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of Tecentriq for advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer as early as October. It won the regulator’s blessing in May for its use in bladder cancer.

“The FDA has already granted the medicine accelerated review.”

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Opdivo Plus Yervoy Gets FDA OK for Melanoma

“Indications for the blockbuster cancer drug nivolumab (Opdivo) have expanded again, as the FDA has approved the anti-PD-1 antibody in combination with ipilimumab (Yervoy) for treatment of unresectable or metastatic melanoma.

“The indication includes both BRAF-wild type and BRAF-mutant melanoma. At the same time, the FDA expanded the indication for single-agent nivolumb to include patients with previously untreated BRAF-wild type melanoma.

“Granted by the FDA’s accelerated approval process, the indication is the seventh for nivolumab, both indications leave the door open for the FDA to request confirmatory data or clinical trials. The approvals increase the number of nivolumab indications to seven, including four in melanoma, all granted since late 2014.”

FDA Approves Pembrolizumab for PD-L1-Positive Lung Cancer

“The FDA granted an accelerated approval to pembrolizumab (Keytruda) as a treatment for patients with pretreated advanced non­–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) across all histologies whose tumors express PD-L1. The PD-1 inhibitor was approved along with a companion diagnostic, the PD-L1 IHC 22C3 pharmDx test, and is indicated for patients who progressed on or after platinum-containing chemotherapy or EGFR-or ALK-targeted agents in patients harboring those mutations.

“The approval was based on data from the phase I KEYNOTE-001 trial, in which the overall response rate (ORR) with the drug was 41% among a subgroup of 61 patients with pretreated PD-L1­–positive advanced NSCLC as determined by the 22C3 pharmDx diagnostic test. Response duration ranged from 2.1 to 9.1 months. A survival improvement has yet to be demonstrated in a clinical trial, and the accelerated approval is contingent upon the eventual outcomes of confirmatory studies.”