Merck’s KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) More Than Doubled Median Overall Survival Compared to Chemotherapy After Two Years of Follow Up in First-Line Treatment of Patients with Metastatic Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer with High Levels of PD-L1

Excerpt:

“Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, today announced the presentation of updated overall survival (OS) findings, a secondary endpoint, from the phase 3 KEYNOTE-024 trial evaluating KEYTRUDA®(pembrolizumab), the company’s anti-PD-1 therapy, as a first-line monotherapy in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors express high levels of PD-L1 (tumor proportion score [TPS] of 50 percent or more). The study included patients with squamous and nonsquamous NSCLC with no EGFR or ALK genomic tumor aberrations. Findings – which are based on more than two years of follow-up – will be presented in an oral presentation at the 18th World Conference on Lung Cancer (WCLC) hosted by the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer in Yokohama, Japan (Abstract OA 17.06).”

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Exelixis Announces Positive Results from Phase 2 Trial of Cabozantinib in Patients with EGFR Wild-Type Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

“Exelixis, Inc. EXEL, +9.21% today announced positive results from a phase 2 clinical study evaluating cabozantinib as a treatment for EGFR wild-type non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The trial, Study E1512, is a randomized phase 2 trial by the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group of cabozantinib and erlotinib, alone or in combination, as second- or third-line therapy in patients with metastatic EGFR wild-type NSCLC. Exelixis previously announced positive top-line results from this trial in November 2014. Data from the trial will be presented today during an oral presentation (Abstract #8003) at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which is being held this week in Chicago, Illinois. Study chair Joel Neal, M.D., Ph.D., of ECOG-ACRIN’s Thoracic Cancer Committee and an Assistant Professor of Medicine (Oncology) at Stanford University/Stanford Cancer Institute will present the results.

“Study E1512 met its primary endpoint, demonstrating significant increases in progression-free survival (PFS) for cabozantinib and the combination of cabozantinib plus erlotinib when individually compared to the erlotinib arm. The median PFS for the combination of cabozantinib and erlotinib was 4.7 months versus 1.9 months for erlotinib alone, a more than two-fold increase that corresponds to a 65% reduction in the risk of disease worsening (hazard ratio [HR]=0.35, 80% CI 0.23-0.52, p=0.0005). The median PFS for cabozantinib monotherapy was 4.2 months versus 1.9 months for erlotinib alone, a more than doubling that corresponds to a 62% reduction in the risk of disease worsening (HR=0.38, 80% CI 0.27-0.55, p=0.0004).”


Merck Receives FDA Breakthrough Therapy Designation for KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) in Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

The gist: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted “breakthrough therapy designation” to the drug Keytruda (aka pembrolizumab) for treating certain lung cancer patients. This designation means that review and approval will be accelerated so that the drug can more quickly reach patients in the U.S., outside of clinical trials. Keytruda is an immunotherapy drug, meaning that it boosts a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer. The breakthrough therapy designation specifically applies to patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors have tested negative for EGFR mutation and ALK rearrangement, and whose disease worsened despite treatment with platinum-based chemotherapy.

“Merck (NYSE:MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation to KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab), the company’s anti-PD-1 therapy, for the treatment of patients with Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) mutation-negative, and Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase (ALK) rearrangement-negative non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose disease has progressed on or following platinum-based chemotherapy. This is the second Breakthrough Therapy Designation granted for KEYTRUDA.

“ ‘The FDA’s Breakthrough Therapy Designation of KEYTRUDA underscores that new treatment approaches for advanced non-small cell lung cancer continue to be needed,’ said Dr. Roger Perlmutter, president, Merck Research Laboratories. ‘Our data investigating the use of KEYTRUDA in this difficult-to-treat malignancy are very encouraging, and we look forward to working closely with the FDA to expedite our clinical program.’ ”