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03-Jun-2019

Merck’s KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Demonstrates Improved Overall Survival as First-Line Treatment of Recurrent or Metastatic Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma at Final Analysis of Pivotal Phase 3 KEYNOTE-048 Trial

Survival Benefit Now Observed with KEYTRUDA in Combination with Chemotherapy in All Patient Populations (Regardless of PD-L1 Expression) and with KEYTRUDA Monotherapy in Patients Whose Tumors Expressed PD-L1 at CPS ≥1

Data Presented Today at 2019 ASCO Annual Meeting

KENILWORTH, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Merck (NYSE:MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, today announced the presentation of the final analysis of the pivotal Phase 3 KEYNOTE-048 trial investigating KEYTRUDA, Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy, as monotherapy and in combination with chemotherapy, for the first-line treatment of patients with recurrent or metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) at the 2019 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting (Abstract #6000). Data include the first-time presentation of certain overall survival (OS) hypotheses from the KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy study arm based on PD-L1 expression and the KEYTRUDA monotherapy study arm in the total patient population. Results of an interim analysis were presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) 2018 Congress and demonstrated superior OS outcomes for KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy in the total population and KEYTRUDA monotherapy in patients whose tumors expressed PD-L1 with Combined Positive Score (CPS) ≥20 and CPS ≥1 compared with the EXTREME regimen, the current standard of care.

“It is exciting to see the full results from this trial, which is the first study to show superior overall survival over the current standard of care known as the EXTREME regimen,” said Dr. Danny Rischin, director of the department of medical oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Australia. “Patients with recurrent or metastatic head and neck cancer have a poor prognosis with limited treatment options. These findings underscore the potential of KEYTRUDA monotherapy and in combination with platinum-based chemotherapy to become important new treatment options.”

The new findings presented today from the final analysis showed that KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy (carboplatin or cisplatin plus 5-FU) reduced the risk of death by 40% in patients whose tumors expressed PD-L1 with CPS≥20, demonstrating significantly longer OS (14.7 months [95% CI, 10.3-19.3]) compared with the EXTREME regimen (cetuximab with carboplatin or cisplatin plus 5-fluorouracil [5-FU]), the current standard of care (11.0 months [95% CI, 9.2-13.0]) (HR=0.60 [95% CI, 0.45-0.82]; p=0.0004). For the dual primary endpoint of progression-free survival (PFS), statistical significance was not achieved for KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy in the CPS≥20 population compared with the EXTREME regimen (HR=0.73 [95% CI, 0.55-.97]; p=0.0162). New findings for the CPS ≥1 population showed KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy reduced the risk of death by 35% in these patients, with significantly longer OS (13.6 months [95% CI, 10.7-15.5]) compared with the EXTREME regimen (10.4 months [95% CI, 9.1-11.7]) (HR=0.65 [95% CI, 0.53-0.80]; p<0.0001). Per the sequential testing strategy, superiority for PFS was not tested in this population (HR=0.82 [95% CI, 0.67-1.00]). Results for OS with KEYTRUDA monotherapy in the total population were consistent with the previously presented interim analysis, where non-inferiority was demonstrated (HR=0.83 [95% CI, 0.70-0.99]; p=0.0199), with a median OS of 11.5 months (95% CI, 10.3-13.4) for KEYTRUDA monotherapy in the total population compared with 10.7 months (95% CI, 9.3-11.7) for the EXTREME regimen. There was no difference in PFS between KEYTRUDA monotherapy in the total population and the EXTREME regimen (HR=1.34 [95% CI, 1.13-1.59]).

“As a company, Merck is committed to advancing research in this challenging treatment setting through our expansive head and neck cancer clinical research program,” said Dr. Jonathan Cheng, vice president, clinical research, Merck Research Laboratories. “The full data from KEYNOTE-048 illustrate the impact of KEYTRUDA as monotherapy and in combination with chemotherapy as potential new first-line treatment options for patients with recurrent or metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. We would like to sincerely thank the patients and investigators for their involvement in KEYNOTE-048.”

As previously announced, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted priority review for a new supplemental Biologics License Application (sBLA) seeking approval for KEYTRUDA as monotherapy or in combination with platinum and 5-FU chemotherapy for the first-line treatment of patients with recurrent or metastatic HNSCC based in part on data from the second interim analysis of KEYNOTE-048. The FDA has set a Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA), or target action, date of June 10, 2019.

Study Design and Additional Data from KEYNOTE-048 (Abstract #6000)

KEYNOTE-048, a randomized, open-label Phase 3 trial (ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT02358031), evaluated KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy or KEYTRUDA monotherapy, compared with the EXTREME regimen, as first-line treatment in patients with recurrent or metastatic HNSCC. The dual primary endpoints were OS and PFS. The secondary endpoints were PFS (at six months and 12 months), objective response rate (ORR) and time to deterioration in the Quality of Life Global Health Status/Quality of Life Scales of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) Quality of Life Questionnaire and Safety. Duration of response (DOR) was evaluated as part of a pre-specified exploratory analysis. The primary and secondary endpoints, as well as exploratory DOR analysis, were evaluated in patients whose tumors expressed PD-L1 (CPS ≥20 and CPS ≥1) and in the total population, based on a fixed sequential testing strategy. Data cutoff for the final analysis was Feb. 25, 2019; data cutoff for the previously presented second interim analysis was June 13, 2018. Details of the OS benefit observed at the final analysis are below:

 

Summary of Overall Survival

     
 
Population (number of patients with event)       Final Analysis Hazard Ratio (95% CI)
KEYTRUDA Monotherapy
PD-L1 CPS ≥20 (n=133) vs. EXTREME (n=122)       0.58 (0.44-0.78)b
PD-L1 CPS ≥1 (n=257) vs. EXTREME (n=255)       0.74 (0.61-0.90)b
Total Population (n=301) vs. EXTREME (n=300)       0.83 (0.70-0.99); p=0.0199c

KEYTRUDA in Combination with
Chemotherapy

PD-L1 CPS ≥20 (n=126) vs. EXTREME (n=110)       0.60 (0.45–0.82); p=0.0004a
PD-L1 CPS ≥1 (n=242) vs. EXTREME (n=235)       0.65 (0.53–0.80); p<0.0001a
Total Population (n=281) vs. EXTREME (n=278)       0.72 (0.60-0.87)b
a   Superiority demonstrated.
b No new statistical testing performed because population previously demonstrated superiority at interim analysis.
c Superiority not demonstrated.
 

The secondary endpoint of ORR was 42.9% for KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy in patients whose tumors expressed PD-L1 with CPS ≥20 compared with 38.2% for the EXTREME regimen. The ORR was 36.4% in patients whose tumors expressed PD-L1 with CPS ≥1 for KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy compared with 35.7% for the EXTREME regimen. The median DOR was 7.1 months (range, 2.1+ to 39.0+) for KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy in patients whose tumors expressed PD-L1 with CPS ≥20 compared with 4.2 months (range, 1.2+ to 31.5+) for the EXTREME regimen. The median DOR was 6.7 months (range, 1.6+ to 39.0+) for KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy in patients whose tumors expressed PD-L1 with CPS ≥1 compared with 4.3 months (range, 1.2+ to 31.5+) for the EXTREME regimen.

In the KEYTRUDA monotherapy arm, an analysis of the total patient population showed an ORR of 16.9% compared with 36.0% for the EXTREME regimen; the median DOR was 22.6 months (range, 1.5+ to 43.0+) compared with 4.5 months (range, 1.2+ to 38.7+) for the EXTREME regimen.

As previously reported, there were no new safety concerns identified with the use of KEYTRUDA in KEYNOTE-048. Grade 3-5 all-cause adverse events occurred in 54.7%, 85.1% and 83.3% of patients in the KEYTRUDA monotherapy, KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy and EXTREME regimen arms, respectively. Adverse events resulting in discontinuation occurred in 12.0%, 32.6% and 27.5% of patients in the KEYTRUDA monotherapy, KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy and EXTREME regimen arms, respectively. Treatment-related deaths occurred in 1.0%, 4.0% and 2.8% of patients in the KEYTRUDA monotherapy, KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy and EXTREME regimen arms, respectively. Grade 3-5 immune-mediated or infusion reactions occurred in 7.0%, 5.4% and 10.5% of patients in the KEYTRUDA monotherapy, KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy and EXTREME regimen arms, respectively.

Additional Information About KEYNOTE-048

KEYNOTE-048 enrolled 882 patients with recurrent or metastatic HNSCC who were randomized to one of three regimens as first-line therapy, as follows:

  • KEYTRUDA monotherapy (200 mg fixed dosed every three weeks [Q3W]) for up to 24 months (n=301); or
  • KEYTRUDA (200 mg fixed dose Q3W) in combination with cisplatin (100 mg/m2 IV Q3W) or carboplatin (AUC 5 IV Q3W) plus 5-FU (1000 mg/m2/day IV continuous from Day 1-4 Q3W (maximum six cycles), followed by additional KEYTRUDA monotherapy maintenance therapy until progression of disease, toxicity or until the patient had received a maximum of 24 months total treatment (n=281); or
  • EXTREME regimen including cetuximab at a loading dose (400 mg/m2 IV) followed by weekly doses (250 mg/m2 IV) in combination with cisplatin (100 mg/m2 IV Q3W) or carboplatin (AUC 5 IV Q3W) plus 5-FU (1000 mg/m2/day IV) continuous from Day 1-4 Q3W (maximum six cycles), followed by additional cetuximab monotherapy maintenance therapy until progression of disease or toxicity (n=300).

About Head and Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancer describes a number of different tumors that develop in or around the throat, larynx, nose, sinuses and mouth. Most head and neck cancers are squamous cell carcinomas that begin in the flat, squamous cells that make up the thin surface layer of the structures in the head and neck. Two substances that greatly increase the risk of developing head and neck cancer are tobacco and alcohol. It is estimated that there were more than 887,000 new cases of head and neck cancer diagnosed and over 453,000 deaths from the disease worldwide in 2018. In the U.S. alone, it is estimated that there will be more than 65,000 new cases of head and neck cancer diagnosed and over 14,000 deaths from the disease in 2019.

About KEYTRUDA ® (pembrolizumab) Injection, 100mg

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.

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 stage III NSCLC who are not candidates for surgical resection or definitive chemoradiation, or metastatic NSCLC, and whose tumors express PD-L1 [tumor proportion score (TPS) ≥1%] as determined by an FDA-approved test, with no EGFR or ALK genomic tumor aberrations.

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.

Head and Neck Cancer

KEYTRUDA 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. 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 HNSCC, 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.

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 [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 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. In renal cell carcinoma, 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.

Selected Important Safety Information for KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) Injection, 100mg

Immune-Mediated Pneumonitis

KEYTRUDA can cause immune-mediated pneumonitis, including fatal cases. Pneumonitis occurred in 3.4% (94/2799) of patients with various cancers receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 1 (0.8%), 2 (1.3%), 3 (0.9%), 4 (0.3%), and 5 (0.1%). Pneumonitis occurred in 8.2% (65/790) of NSCLC patients receiving KEYTRUDA as a single agent, including Grades 3-4 in 3.2% of patients, and occurred more frequently in patients with a history of prior thoracic radiation (17%) compared to those without (7.7%).

Monitor patients for signs and symptoms of pneumonitis. Evaluate suspected pneumonitis with radiographic imaging. Administer corticosteroids for Grade 2 or greater pneumonitis. Withhold KEYTRUDA for Grade 2; permanently discontinue KEYTRUDA for Grade 3 or 4 or recurrent Grade 2 pneumonitis.

Immune-Mediated Colitis

KEYTRUDA can cause immune-mediated colitis. Colitis occurred in 1.7% (48/2799) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 2 (0.4%), 3 (1.1%), and 4 (<0.1%). Monitor patients for signs and symptoms of colitis. Administer corticosteroids for Grade 2 or greater colitis. Withhold KEYTRUDA for Grade 2 or 3; permanently discontinue KEYTRUDA for Grade 4 colitis.

Immune-Mediated Hepatitis, or Hepatoxicity (in Combination With Axitinib)

Immune-Mediated Hepatitis

KEYTRUDA can cause immune-mediated hepatitis. Hepatitis occurred in 0.7% (19/2799) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 2 (0.1%), 3 (0.4%), and 4 (<0.1%). Monitor patients for changes in liver function. Administer corticosteroids for Grade 2 or greater hepatitis and, based on severity of liver enzyme elevations, withhold or discontinue KEYTRUDA.

Hepatotoxicity (in Combination With Axitinib)

KEYTRUDA in combination with axitinib can cause hepatic toxicity with higher than expected frequencies of Grades 3 and 4 ALT and AST elevations compared to KEYTRUDA alone. Grades 3 and 4 increased ALT and AST were seen in 20% and 13% of patients, respectively. Monitor liver enzymes before initiation of and periodically throughout treatment. Consider more frequent monitoring of liver enzymes as compared to when the drugs are used in monotherapy. For elevated liver enzymes, interrupt KEYTRUDA and axitinib, and consider administering corticosteroids as needed.

Immune-Mediated Endocrinopathies

KEYTRUDA can cause hypophysitis, thyroid disorders, and type 1 diabetes mellitus. Hypophysitis occurred in 0.6% (17/2799) of patients, including Grade 2 (0.2%), 3 (0.3%), and 4 (<0.1%). Hypothyroidism occurred in 8.5% (237/2799) of patients, including Grade 2 (6.2%) and 3 (0.1%). The incidence of new or worsening hypothyroidism was higher in patients with HNSCC, occurring in 15% (28/192) of patients. Hyperthyroidism occurred in 3.4% (96/2799) of patients, including Grade 2 (0.8%) and 3 (0.1%), and thyroiditis occurred in 0.6% (16/2799) of patients, including Grade 2 (0.3%). Type 1 diabetes mellitus, including diabetic ketoacidosis, occurred in 0.2% (6/2799) of patients.

Monitor patients for signs and symptoms of hypophysitis (including hypopituitarism and adrenal insufficiency), thyroid function (prior to and periodically during treatment), and hyperglycemia. For hypophysitis, administer corticosteroids and hormone replacement as clinically indicated. Withhold KEYTRUDA for Grade 2 and withhold or discontinue for Grade 3 or 4 hypophysitis. Administer hormone replacement for hypothyroidism and manage hyperthyroidism with thionamides and beta-blockers as appropriate. Withhold or discontinue KEYTRUDA for Grade 3 or 4 hyperthyroidism. Administer insulin for type 1 diabetes and withhold KEYTRUDA and administer antihyperglycemics in patients with severe hyperglycemia.

Immune-Mediated Nephritis and Renal Dysfunction

KEYTRUDA can cause immune-mediated nephritis. Nephritis occurred in 0.3% (9/2799) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 2 (0.1%), 3 (0.1%), and 4 (<0.1%) nephritis. Nephritis occurred in 1.7% (7/405) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA in combination with pemetrexed and platinum chemotherapy. Monitor patients for changes in renal function. Administer corticosteroids for Grade 2 or greater nephritis. Withhold KEYTRUDA for Grade 2; permanently discontinue for Grade 3 or 4 nephritis.

Immune-Mediated Skin Reactions

Immune-mediated rashes, including Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS), toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) (some cases with fatal outcome), exfoliative dermatitis, and bullous pemphigoid, can occur. Monitor patients for suspected severe skin reactions and based on the severity of the adverse reaction, withhold or permanently discontinue KEYTRUDA and administer corticosteroids. For signs or symptoms of SJS or TEN, withhold KEYTRUDA and refer the patient for specialized care for assessment and treatment. If SJS or TEN is confirmed, permanently discontinue KEYTRUDA.

Other Immune-Mediated Adverse Reactions

Immune-mediated adverse reactions, which may be severe or fatal, can occur in any organ system or tissue in patients receiving KEYTRUDA and may also occur after discontinuation of treatment. For suspected immune-mediated adverse reactions, ensure adequate evaluation to confirm etiology or exclude other causes. Based on the severity of the adverse reaction, withhold KEYTRUDA and administer corticosteroids. Upon improvement to Grade 1 or less, initiate corticosteroid taper and continue to taper over at least 1 month. Based on limited data from clinical studies in patients whose immune-related adverse reactions could not be controlled with corticosteroid use, administration of other systemic immunosuppressants can be considered. Resume KEYTRUDA when the adverse reaction remains at Grade 1 or less following corticosteroid taper. Permanently discontinue KEYTRUDA for any Grade 3 immune-mediated adverse reaction that recurs and for any life-threatening immune-mediated adverse reaction.

The following clinically significant immune-mediated adverse reactions occurred in less than 1% (unless otherwise indicated) of 2799 patients: arthritis (1.5%), uveitis, myositis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, myasthenia gravis, vasculitis, pancreatitis, hemolytic anemia, sarcoidosis, and encephalitis. In addition, myelitis and myocarditis were reported in other clinical trials, including classical Hodgkin lymphoma, and postmarketing use.

Treatment with KEYTRUDA may increase the risk of rejection in solid organ transplant recipients. Consider the benefit of treatment vs the risk of possible organ rejection in these patients.

Infusion-Related Reactions

KEYTRUDA can cause severe or life-threatening infusion-related reactions, including hypersensitivity and anaphylaxis, which have been reported in 0.2% (6/2799) of patients. Monitor patients for signs and symptoms of infusion-related reactions. For Grade 3 or 4 reactions, stop infusion and permanently discontinue KEYTRUDA.

Complications of Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT)

Immune-mediated complications, including fatal events, occurred in patients who underwent allogeneic HSCT after treatment with KEYTRUDA. Of 23 patients with cHL who proceeded to allogeneic HSCT after KEYTRUDA, 6 (26%) developed graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) (1 fatal case) and 2 (9%) developed severe hepatic veno-occlusive disease (VOD) after reduced-intensity conditioning (1 fatal case). Cases of fatal hyperacute GVHD after allogeneic HSCT have also been reported in patients with lymphoma who received a PD-1 receptor–blocking antibody before transplantation. Follow patients closely for early evidence of transplant-related complications such as hyperacute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), Grade 3 to 4 acute GVHD, steroid-requiring febrile syndrome, hepatic veno-occlusive disease (VOD), and other immune-mediated adverse reactions.

In patients with a history of allogeneic HSCT, acute GVHD (including fatal GVHD) has been reported after treatment with KEYTRUDA. Patients who experienced GVHD after their transplant procedure may be at increased risk for GVHD after KEYTRUDA. Consider the benefit of KEYTRUDA vs the risk of GVHD in these patients.

Increased Mortality in Patients With Multiple Myeloma

In trials in patients with multiple myeloma, the addition of KEYTRUDA to a thalidomide analogue plus dexamethasone resulted in increased mortality. Treatment of these patients with a PD-1 or PD-L1 blocking antibody in this combination is not recommended outside of controlled trials.

Embryofetal Toxicity

Based on its mechanism of action, KEYTRUDA can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. Advise women of this potential risk. In females of reproductive potential, verify pregnancy status prior to initiating KEYTRUDA and advise them to use effective contraception during treatment and for 4 months after the last dose.

Adverse Reactions

In KEYNOTE-006, KEYTRUDA was discontinued due to adverse reactions in 9% of 555 patients with advanced melanoma; adverse reactions leading to permanent discontinuation in more than one patient were colitis (1.4%), autoimmune hepatitis (0.7%), allergic reaction (0.4%), polyneuropathy (0.4%), and cardiac failure (0.4%). The most common adverse reactions (≥20%) with KEYTRUDA were fatigue (28%), diarrhea (26%), rash (24%), and nausea (21%).

In KEYNOTE-054, KEYTRUDA was permanently discontinued due to adverse reactions in 14% of 509 patients; the most common (≥1%) were pneumonitis (1.4%), colitis (1.2%), and diarrhea (1%). Serious adverse reactions occurred in 25% of patients receiving KEYTRUDA. The most common adverse reaction (≥20%) with KEYTRUDA was diarrhea (28%).

In KEYNOTE-189, when KEYTRUDA was administered with pemetrexed and platinum chemotherapy in metastatic nonsquamous NSCLC, KEYTRUDA was discontinued due to adverse reactions in 20% of 405 patients. The most common adverse reactions resulting in permanent discontinuation of KEYTRUDA were pneumonitis (3%) and acute kidney injury (2%). The most common adverse reactions (≥20%) with KEYTRUDA were nausea (56%), fatigue (56%), constipation (35%), diarrhea (31%), decreased appetite (28%), rash (25%), vomiting (24%), cough (21%), dyspnea (21%), and pyrexia (20%).

In KEYNOTE-407, when KEYTRUDA was administered with carboplatin and either paclitaxel or paclitaxel protein-bound in metastatic squamous NSCLC, KEYTRUDA was discontinued due to adverse reactions in 15% of 101 patients. The most frequent serious adverse reactions reported in at least 2% of patients were febrile neutropenia, pneumonia, and urinary tract infection. Adverse reactions observed in KEYNOTE-407 were similar to those observed in KEYNOTE-189 with the exception that increased incidences of alopecia (47% vs 36%) and peripheral neuropathy (31% vs 25%) were observed in the KEYTRUDA and chemotherapy arm compared to the placebo and chemotherapy arm in KEYNOTE-407.

In KEYNOTE-042, KEYTRUDA was discontinued due to adverse reactions in 19% of 636 patients; the most common were pneumonitis (3%), death due to unknown cause (1.6%), and pneumonia (1.4%). The most frequent serious adverse reactions reported in at least 2% of patients were pneumonia (7%), pneumonitis (3.9%), pulmonary embolism (2.4%), and pleural effusion (2.2%). The most common adverse reaction (≥20%) was fatigue (25%).

In KEYNOTE-010, KEYTRUDA monotherapy was discontinued due to adverse reactions in 8% of 682 patients with metastatic NSCLC; the most common was pneumonitis (1.8%). The most common adverse reactions (≥20%) were decreased appetite (25%), fatigue (25%), dyspnea (23%), and nausea (20%).

In KEYNOTE-012, KEYTRUDA was discontinued due to adverse reactions in 17% of 192 patients with HNSCC. Serious adverse reactions occurred in 45% of patients. The most frequent serious adverse reactions reported in at least 2% of patients were pneumonia, dyspnea, confusional state, vomiting, pleural effusion, and respiratory failure. The most common adverse reactions (≥20%) were fatigue, decreased appetite, and dyspnea. Adverse reactions occurring in patients with HNSCC were generally similar to those occurring in patients with melanoma or NSCLC who received KEYTRUDA as a monotherapy, with the exception of increased incidences of facial edema and new or worsening hypothyroidism.

In KEYNOTE-087, KEYTRUDA was discontinued due to adverse reactions in 5% of 210 patients with cHL. Serious adverse reactions occurred in 16% of patients; those ≥1% included pneumonia, pneumonitis, pyrexia, dyspnea, GVHD, and herpes zoster. Two patients died from causes other than disease progression; 1 from GVHD after subsequent allogeneic HSCT and 1 from septic shock. The most common adverse reactions (≥20%) were fatigue (26%), pyrexia (24%), cough (24%), musculoskeletal pain (21%), diarrhea (20%), and rash (20%).

In KEYNOTE-170, KEYTRUDA was discontinued due to adverse reactions in 8% of 53 patients with PMBCL. Serious adverse reactions occurred in 26% of patients and included arrhythmia (4%), cardiac tamponade (2%), myocardial infarction (2%), pericardial effusion (2%), and pericarditis (2%). Six (11%) patients died within 30 days of start of treatment. The most common adverse reactions (≥20%) were musculoskeletal pain (30%), upper respiratory tract infection and pyrexia (28% each), cough (26%), fatigue (23%), and dyspnea (21%).

In KEYNOTE-052, KEYTRUDA was discontinued due to adverse reactions in 11% of 370 patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma. Serious adverse reactions occurred in 42% of patients; those ≥2% were urinary tract infection, hematuria, acute kidney injury, pneumonia, and urosepsis. The most common adverse reactions (≥20%) were fatigue (38%), musculoskeletal pain (24%), decreased appetite (22%), constipation (21%), rash (21%), and diarrhea (20%).

In KEYNOTE-045, KEYTRUDA was discontinued due to adverse reactions in 8% of 266 patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma. The most common adverse reaction resulting in permanent discontinuation of KEYTRUDA was pneumonitis (1.9%). Serious adverse reactions occurred in 39% of KEYTRUDA-treated patients; those ≥2% were urinary tract infection, pneumonia, anemia, and pneumonitis. The most common adverse reactions (≥20%) in patients who received KEYTRUDA were fatigue (38%), musculoskeletal pain (32%), pruritus (23%), decreased appetite (21%), nausea (21%), and rash (20%).

Adverse reactions occurring in patients with gastric cancer were similar to those occurring in patients with melanoma or NSCLC who received KEYTRUDA as a monotherapy.

In KEYNOTE-158, KEYTRUDA was discontinued due to adverse reactions in 8% of 98 patients with recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer. Serious adverse reactions occurred in 39% of patients receiving KEYTRUDA; the most frequent included anemia (7%), fistula, hemorrhage, and infections [except urinary tract infections] (4.1% each). The most common adverse reactions (≥20%) were fatigue (43%), musculoskeletal pain (27%), diarrhea (23%), pain and abdominal pain (22% each), and decreased appetite (21%).

Adverse reactions occurring in patients with HCC were generally similar to those in patients with melanoma or NSCLC who received KEYTRUDA as a monotherapy, with the exception of increased incidences of ascites (8% Grades 3-4) and immune-mediated hepatitis (2.9%). Laboratory abnormalities (Grades 3-4) that occurred at a higher incidence were elevated AST (20%), ALT (9%), and hyperbilirubinemia (10%).

Among the 50 patients with MCC enrolled in study KEYNOTE-017, adverse reactions occurring in patients with MCC were generally similar to those occurring in patients with melanoma or NSCLC who received KEYTRUDA as a monotherapy. Laboratory abnormalities (Grades 3-4) that occurred at a higher incidence were elevated AST (11%) and hyperglycemia (19%).

KEYNOTE-426, when KEYTRUDA was administered in combination with axitinib, fatal adverse reactions occurred in 3.3% of 429 patients. Serious adverse reactions occurred in 40% of patients, the most frequent of which (≥1%) included hepatotoxicity (7%), diarrhea (4.2%), acute kidney injury (2.3%), dehydration (1%), and pneumonitis (1%).

Permanent discontinuation due to an adverse reaction occurred in 31% of patients; KEYTRUDA only (13%), axitinib only (13%), and the combination (8%). The most common adverse reactions (>1%) resulting in permanent discontinuation of KEYTRUDA, axitinib, or the combination were hepatotoxicity (13%), diarrhea/colitis (1.9%), acute kidney injury (1.6%), and cerebrovascular accident (1.2%).

When KEYTRUDA was used in combination with axitinib, the most common adverse reactions (≥20%) were diarrhea (56%), fatigue/asthenia (52%), hypertension (48%), hepatotoxicity (39%), hypothyroidism (35%), decreased appetite (30%), palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia (28%), nausea (28%), stomatitis/mucosal inflammation (27%), dysphonia (25%), rash (25%), cough (21%), and constipation (21%).

Lactation

Because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in breastfed children, advise women not to breastfeed during treatment and for 4 months after the final dose.

Pediatric Use

There is limited experience in pediatric patients. In a trial, 40 pediatric patients (16 children aged 2 years to younger than 12 years and 24 adolescents aged 12 years to 18 years) with various cancers, including unapproved usages, were administered KEYTRUDA 2 mg/kg every 3 weeks. Patients received KEYTRUDA for a median of 3 doses (range 1–17 doses), with 34 patients (85%) receiving 2 doses or more. The safety profile in these pediatric patients was similar to that seen in adults; adverse reactions that occurred at a higher rate (≥15% difference) in these patients when compared to adults under 65 years of age were fatigue (45%), vomiting (38%), abdominal pain (28%), increased transaminases (28%), and hyponatremia (18%).

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 TwitterFacebookInstagramYouTube and LinkedIn.

Forward-Looking Statement of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA

This news release of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA (the “company”) includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of the company’s management and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. There can be no guarantees with respect to pipeline products that the products will receive the necessary regulatory approvals or that they will prove to be commercially successful. If underlying assumptions prove inaccurate or risks or uncertainties materialize, actual results may differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements.

Risks and uncertainties include but are not limited to, general industry conditions and competition; general economic factors, including interest rate and currency exchange rate fluctuations; the impact of pharmaceutical industry regulation and health care legislation in the United States and internationally; global trends toward health care cost containment; technological advances, new products and patents attained by competitors; challenges inherent in new product development, including obtaining regulatory approval; the company’s ability to accurately predict future market conditions; manufacturing difficulties or delays; financial instability of international economies and sovereign risk; dependence on the effectiveness of the company’s patents and other protections for innovative products; and the exposure to litigation, including patent litigation, and/or regulatory actions.

The company undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Additional factors that could cause results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements can be found in the company’s 2018 Annual Report on Form 10-K and the company’s other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) available at the SEC’s Internet site (www.sec.gov ).

Please see Prescribing Information for KEYTRUDA at http://www.merck.com/product/usa/pi_circulars/k/keytruda/keytruda_pi.pdf and Medication Guide for KEYTRUDA at http://www.merck.com/product/usa/pi_circulars/k/keytruda/keytruda_mg.pdf .

Editor Details

  • Company:
    • PharmiWeb
  • Name:
    • Mike Wood
Last Updated: 03-Jun-2019