Merck Provides Update on KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Indication in Metastatic Small Cell Lung Cancer in the US
Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, today announced the company is voluntarily withdrawing the U.S. indication for KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) for the treatment of patients with metastatic small cell lung cancer (SCLC) with disease progression on or after platinum-based chemotherapy and at least one other prior line of therapy. The withdrawal of this indication was done in consultation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Merck is working to complete this process over the coming weeks. This decision does not affect other indications for KEYTRUDA, Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy.
This accelerated approval for KEYTRUDA was granted in June 2019 based on tumor response rate and durability of response data from KEYNOTE-158 (cohort G) and KEYNOTE-028 (cohort C1). Continued approval for this indication was contingent upon completion of the post-marketing requirement establishing superiority of KEYTRUDA as determined by overall survival (OS). As announced in Jan. 2020, KEYNOTE-604, the confirmatory Phase 3 trial for this indication, met one of its dual primary endpoints of progression-free survival but did not reach statistical significance for the other primary endpoint of OS.
Merck’s consultation with the FDA on this withdrawal is part of an industry-wide evaluation of indications based on accelerated approvals that have not yet met their post-marketing requirements. Merck is notifying health care professionals about this withdrawal. Patients being treated with KEYTRUDA for their metastatic SCLC should discuss their care with their health care provider.
“The accelerated pathways created by the FDA have been integral to the remarkable progress in oncology care over the past five years and have helped many cancer patients with advanced disease, including small cell lung cancer, access new treatments,” said Dr. Roy Baynes, senior vice president and head of global clinical development, chief medical officer, Merck Research Laboratories. “KEYTRUDA remains a foundational treatment for certain patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer. We will continue to rigorously evaluate the benefits of KEYTRUDA in small cell lung cancer and other types of cancer, in pursuit of Merck’s mission to save and improve lives.”
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 1,300 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.