“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.”
A Q&A with Al Musella, DPM, President, Musella Foundation For Brain Tumor Research & Information, Inc., Hewlett, NY. Marty Tenenbaum, PhD, Founder and Chair, Cancer Commons, Los Altos, CA
Originally published April 5, 2017
Q: The delay time from discovery/observation, through validation to approval and distribution/use of new cancer treatments remains excessive. With promising experimental treatments, advanced computer technology and biostatistics, creative alternatives to traditional randomized clinical trials, and a government seeking efficiencies, might it now be time for the FDA to issue: “Conditional Approvals”?
A: The first advances in oncology occurred at a time when there were no regulations. Doctors had ideas, and put them to work immediately. They adjusted and combined treatments as needed until they were optimized and became standard treatments. Many types of cancer were cured by this work. Continue reading…
Immune checkpoint inhibitor drugs that target the proteins PD-1 and PD-L1 are by now well established in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved nivolumab (Opdivo), an anti-PD-1 drug, for treatment of patients with metastatic NSCLC who progressed or relapsed after platinum-based chemotherapy. Atezolizumab (Tecentriq), an anti-PD-L1 drug, was approved in 2016 for treatment of NSCLC patients in the same situation. In October 2016, the FDA approved Pembrolizumab (Keytruda), a competing anti-PD-1 antibody, as first-line treatment in metastatic NSCLC patients whose tumors have high expression levels of the PD-L1 protein.
With these approvals, the stage was set to move these drugs into combination treatments that may increase their efficacy. Not surprisingly, combinations with chemotherapy have now been explored, among other possibilities. Continue reading…
“Based on data from the phase III COMBI-AD study, the combination of dabrafenib (Tafinlar) and trametinib (Mekinist) has been granted FDA approval for the adjuvant treatment of patients with BRAF V600E– or V600K–positive stage III melanoma following complete resection.
“In results from the trial, adjuvant treatment with dabrafenib and trametinib reduced the risk of relapse or death by 53% compared with placebo for patients with BRAF-mutant stage III melanoma.1,2 After a median follow-up of 2.8 years, the 3-year relapse-free survival (RFS) rate with dabrafenib and trametinib was 58% compared with 39% for placebo (HR, 0.47; 95% CI, 0.39-0.58; P <.001).”
“Findings from the phase III NETTER-1 trial led to the January 2018 FDA approval of Lutathera (lutetium Lu 177 dotatate) for the treatment of patients with somatostatin receptor–positive gastroenteropancreatic tumors (GEP-NETs). The trial compared Lutathera with high-dose octreotide LAR for patients with 1 or 2 metastatic midgut NETs.
“In NETTER-1, patients with midgut NETs who progressed on 30 mg of octreotide were randomized to Lutathera (n = 116) or high-dose octreotide (n = 113). Patients received 4 doses of Lutathera at 7.4 GBq every 8 weeks in combination with 30 mg of octreotide. The control arm received 60 mg of octreotide LAR every 4 weeks.”
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given another approval for a breast cancer treatment developed by Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY). The announcement marks the third FDA approval for Verzenio in five months.
“The most recent ruling approves Verzenio, also known as abemaciclib, for use in combination with an aromatase inhibitor as an initial endocrine-based therapy for the treatment of postmenopausal women with advanced or metastatic breast cancer. Lilly says the approval follows the results of a successful Phase 3 clinical trial.”
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Imfinzi (durvalumab) for the treatment of patients with stage III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors are not able to be surgically removed (unresectable) and whose cancer has not progressed after treatment with chemotherapy and radiation (chemoradiation).”
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Erleada (apalutamide) for the treatment of patients with prostate cancer that has not spread (non-metastatic), but that continues to grow despite treatment with hormone therapy (castration-resistant). This is the first FDA-approved treatment for non-metastatic, castration-resistant prostate cancer.”
“The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new indication for ZYTIGA® (abiraterone acetate) in combination with prednisone for the treatment of patients with metastatic high-risk castration-sensitive prostate cancer (CSPC). The approval is based on Phase 3 data from the pivotal LATITUDE clinical trial, which found that in patients with metastatic high-risk CSPC, ZYTIGA® in combination with prednisone reduced the risk of death by 38 percent compared to placebos.”