FDA Approves Expanded Indication for KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Plus Padcev® (enfortumab vedotin-ejfv) for the First-Line Treatment of Adult Patients With Locally Advanced or Metastatic Urothelial Cancer

FDA Approves Expanded Indication for KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Plus Padcev® (enfortumab vedotin-ejfv) for the First-Line Treatment of Adult Patients With Locally Advanced or Metastatic Urothelial Cancer




FDA Approves Expanded Indication for KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Plus Padcev® (enfortumab vedotin-ejfv) for the First-Line Treatment of Adult Patients With Locally Advanced or Metastatic Urothelial Cancer

Approval is based on results from the Phase 3 KEYNOTE-A39 trial, which demonstrated a superior overall survival benefit with KEYTRUDA plus Padcev versus platinum-based chemotherapy (gemcitabine plus cisplatin or carboplatin) in these patients

Approval expands the use of KEYTRUDA plus Padcev for locally advanced or metastatic urothelial cancer regardless of cisplatin eligibility

RAHWAY, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–$MRK #MRK–Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, today announced the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved KEYTRUDA, Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy, in combination with Padcev (enfortumab vedotin-ejfv), an antibody-drug conjugate, for the treatment of adult patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial cancer. The FDA approved this application nearly five months ahead of the PDUFA goal date of May 9, 2024.


The approval is based on data from the Phase 3 KEYNOTE-A39 trial (also known as EV-302) in 886 patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial cancer, which was conducted in a research collaboration with Pfizer (previously Seagen) and Astellas. In the trial, KEYTRUDA plus enfortumab vedotin demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in the trial’s major efficacy endpoints of overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) versus platinum-based chemotherapy (gemcitabine plus cisplatin or carboplatin). KEYTRUDA plus enfortumab vedotin reduced the risk of death by 53% (HR=0.47 [95% CI, 0.38-0.58]; p<0.0001) versus platinum-based chemotherapy. Median OS was 31.5 months (95% CI, 25.4-not reached) for KEYTRUDA plus enfortumab vedotin versus 16.1 months (95% CI, 13.9-18.3) for platinum-based chemotherapy. KEYTRUDA plus enfortumab vedotin reduced the risk of disease progression or death by 55% (HR=0.45 [95% CI, 0.38-0.54]; p<0.0001) versus platinum-based chemotherapy. Median PFS was 12.5 months (95% CI, 10.4-16.6) for KEYTRUDA plus enfortumab vedotin versus 6.3 months (95% CI, 6.2-6.5) for platinum-based chemotherapy.

The trial also demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in objective response rate (ORR) in patients randomized to receive KEYTRUDA plus enfortumab vedotin compared with patients randomized to receive platinum-based chemotherapy. The ORR was 68% (95% CI, 63-72) for KEYTRUDA plus enfortumab vedotin versus 44% (95% CI, 40-49) for platinum-based chemotherapy (p<0.0001). For KEYTRUDA plus enfortumab vedotin, the complete response (CR) rate was 29% and the partial response (PR) rate was 39%, and for platinum-based chemotherapy, the CR rate was 12% and the PR rate was 32%. Efficacy results (OS, PFS and ORR) were consistent across all stratified patient subgroups.

Immune-mediated adverse reactions, which may be severe or fatal, can occur in any organ system or tissue and can affect more than one body system simultaneously. Immune-mediated adverse reactions can occur at any time during or after treatment with KEYTRUDA, including pneumonitis, colitis, hepatitis, endocrinopathies, nephritis, dermatologic reactions, solid organ transplant rejection, and complications of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Important immune-mediated adverse reactions listed here may not include all possible severe and fatal immune-mediated adverse reactions. Early identification and management of immune-mediated adverse reactions are essential to ensure safe use of KEYTRUDA. Based on the severity of the adverse reaction, KEYTRUDA should be withheld or permanently discontinued and corticosteroids administered if appropriate. KEYTRUDA can also cause severe or life-threatening infusion-related reactions. Based on its mechanism of action, KEYTRUDA can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. For more information, see “Selected Important Safety Information” below.

Advanced bladder cancer is a common cause of cancer-related death,” said Dr. Thomas Powles, primary investigator of KEYNOTE-A39, professor of Genitourinary Oncology and director, Barts Cancer Center. “The overall survival benefit seen in the KEYNOTE-A39 trial demonstrates the potential for KEYTRUDA in combination with enfortumab vedotin to impact the first-line treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial cancer. In my opinion, this is a meaningful advancement over platinum-based chemotherapy in the systemic treatment of these patients.”

The landmark findings from the KEYNOTE-A39 trial are the first positive Phase 3 results combining a PD-1 inhibitor and an antibody-drug conjugate as first-line treatment for patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial cancer. This combination has the potential to change the treatment paradigm in advanced urothelial cancer and to help these patients live longer,” said Dr. Eliav Barr, senior vice president and head of global clinical development, chief medical officer, Merck Research Laboratories. “Today’s approval reinforces the value of advancing novel combinations with KEYTRUDA to provide these patients with a treatment option.”

Results from KEYNOTE-A39 were presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology Congress 2023 as late-breaking data during a Presidential Symposium session. KEYTRUDA plus enfortumab vedotin was previously approved under the FDA’s accelerated approval program for the treatment of adult patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma who are not eligible to receive cisplatin-containing chemotherapy based on data from the KEYNOTE-869 trial (also known as EV-103) dose escalation cohort, Cohort A and Cohort K, which was conducted in collaboration with Pfizer and Astellas. In accordance with accelerated approval regulations, continued approval was contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit; these accelerated approval requirements have been fulfilled with the data from KEYNOTE-A39.

This approval was reviewed under the FDA’s Real-Time Oncology Review program, which aims to improve the efficiency of the review process of applications to ensure that treatments are available to patients as early as possible.

Study design and additional data supporting the approval

KEYNOTE-A39 is an open-label, multicenter, randomized, active-controlled Phase 3 trial (ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04223856) evaluating KEYTRUDA plus enfortumab vedotin compared to platinum-based chemotherapy (gemcitabine plus cisplatin or carboplatin) for the treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial cancer who received no prior systemic therapy for locally advanced or metastatic disease. Patients randomized to the chemotherapy arm were allowed to receive maintenance immunotherapy. The trial enrolled 886 patients who were randomized (1:1) to receive either:

  • KEYTRUDA 200 mg over 30 minutes on Day 1 and enfortumab vedotin 1.25 mg/kg on Days 1 and 8 of each 21-day cycle. KEYTRUDA was given approximately 30 minutes after enfortumab vedotin. Treatment was continued until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity. In the absence of disease progression or unacceptable toxicity, KEYTRUDA was continued for up to two years, or;
  • Gemcitabine 1000 mg/m2 on Days 1 and 8 of a 21-day cycle with cisplatin 70 mg/m2 or carboplatin (AUC 4.5 or 5) on Day 1 of a 21-day cycle. Treatment was continued until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity for up to 6 cycles.

Randomization was stratified by cisplatin eligibility, PD-L1 expression and presence of liver metastases.

The major efficacy outcome measures were OS and PFS as assessed by blinded independent central review (BICR) according to RECIST v1.1. Additional outcome measures included ORR as assessed by BICR.

Among patients who received KEYTRUDA and enfortumab vedotin (n=440), the median duration of exposure to KEYTRUDA was 8.5 months (range: 9 days to 28.5 months). Fatal adverse reactions occurred in 3.9% of patients receiving KEYTRUDA plus enfortumab vedotin, including acute respiratory failure (0.7%), pneumonia (0.5%) and pneumonitis/interstitial lung disease (ILD) (0.2%). Serious adverse reactions occurred in 50% of patients receiving KEYTRUDA in combination with enfortumab vedotin; the serious adverse reactions in ≥2% of patients were rash (6%), acute kidney injury (5%), pneumonitis/ILD (4.5%), urinary tract infection (3.6%), diarrhea (3.2%), pneumonia (2.3%), pyrexia (2%) and hyperglycemia (2%). Permanent discontinuation of KEYTRUDA occurred in 27% of patients. The most common adverse reactions (≥2%) resulting in permanent discontinuation of KEYTRUDA were pneumonitis/ILD (4.8%) and rash (3.4%). The most common adverse reactions (≥20%) occurring in patients treated with KEYTRUDA in combination with enfortumab vedotin were rash (68%), peripheral neuropathy (67%), fatigue (51%), pruritus (41%), diarrhea (38%), alopecia (35%), weight loss (33%), decreased appetite (33%), nausea (26%), constipation (26%), dry eye (24%), dysgeusia (21%) and urinary tract infection (21%).

About bladder and urothelial cancer

Urothelial cancer, a type of bladder cancer, begins in the urothelial cells, which line the urethra, bladder, ureters, renal pelvis and some other organs. In the U.S., it is estimated that approximately 82,300 people were diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2023. Approximately 12% of cases are locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma at diagnosis, and many patients with advanced urothelial carcinoma face a poor prognosis.

About KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) injection, 100 mg

KEYTRUDA is an anti-programmed death receptor-1 (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 1,600 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.

Selected KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Indications in the U.S.

Urothelial Cancer

KEYTRUDA, in combination with enfortumab vedotin, is indicated for the treatment of adult patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial cancer (mUC).

KEYTRUDA, as a single agent, is indicated for the treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma:

  • who are not eligible for any platinum-containing chemotherapy, or
  • who have disease progression during or following platinum-containing chemotherapy or within 12 months of neoadjuvant or adjuvant treatment with platinum-containing chemotherapy.

KEYTRUDA, as a single agent, is indicated for the treatment of patients with Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG)-unresponsive, high-risk, non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) with carcinoma in situ (CIS) with or without papillary tumors who are ineligible for or have elected not to undergo cystectomy.

See additional selected indications for KEYTRUDA in the U.S. after the Selected Important Safety Information.

Selected Important Safety Information for KEYTRUDA

Severe and Fatal Immune-Mediated Adverse Reactions

KEYTRUDA is a monoclonal antibody that belongs to a class of drugs that bind to either the PD-1 or the PD-L1, blocking the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway, thereby removing inhibition of the immune response, potentially breaking peripheral tolerance and inducing immune-mediated adverse reactions. Immune-mediated adverse reactions, which may be severe or fatal, can occur in any organ system or tissue, can affect more than one body system simultaneously, and can occur at any time after starting treatment or after discontinuation of treatment. Important immune-mediated adverse reactions listed here may not include all possible severe and fatal immune-mediated adverse reactions.

Monitor patients closely for symptoms and signs that may be clinical manifestations of underlying immune-mediated adverse reactions. Early identification and management are essential to ensure safe use of anti–PD-1/PD-L1 treatments. Evaluate liver enzymes, creatinine, and thyroid function at baseline and periodically during treatment. For patients with TNBC treated with KEYTRUDA in the neoadjuvant setting, monitor blood cortisol at baseline, prior to surgery, and as clinically indicated. In cases of suspected immune-mediated adverse reactions, initiate appropriate workup to exclude alternative etiologies, including infection. Institute medical management promptly, including specialty consultation as appropriate.

Withhold or permanently discontinue KEYTRUDA depending on severity of the immune-mediated adverse reaction. In general, if KEYTRUDA requires interruption or discontinuation, administer systemic corticosteroid therapy (1 to 2 mg/kg/day prednisone or equivalent) until improvement to Grade 1 or less. Upon improvement to Grade 1 or less, initiate corticosteroid taper and continue to taper over at least 1 month. Consider administration of other systemic immunosuppressants in patients whose adverse reactions are not controlled with corticosteroid therapy.

Immune-Mediated Pneumonitis

KEYTRUDA can cause immune-mediated pneumonitis. The incidence is higher in patients who have received prior thoracic radiation. Immune-mediated pneumonitis occurred in 3.4% (94/2799) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including fatal (0.1%), Grade 4 (0.3%), Grade 3 (0.9%), and Grade 2 (1.3%) reactions. Systemic corticosteroids were required in 67% (63/94) of patients. Pneumonitis led to permanent discontinuation of KEYTRUDA in 1.3% (36) and withholding in 0.9% (26) of patients. All patients who were withheld reinitiated KEYTRUDA after symptom improvement; of these, 23% had recurrence. Pneumonitis resolved in 59% of the 94 patients.

Pneumonitis occurred in 8% (31/389) of adult patients with cHL receiving KEYTRUDA as a single agent, including Grades 3-4 in 2.3% of patients. Patients received high-dose corticosteroids for a median duration of 10 days (range: 2 days to 53 months). Pneumonitis rates were similar in patients with and without prior thoracic radiation. Pneumonitis led to discontinuation of KEYTRUDA in 5.4% (21) of patients. Of the patients who developed pneumonitis, 42% interrupted KEYTRUDA, 68% discontinued KEYTRUDA, and 77% had resolution.

Pneumonitis occurred in 7% (41/580) of adult patients with resected NSCLC who received KEYTRUDA as a single agent for adjuvant treatment of NSCLC, including fatal (0.2%), Grade 4 (0.3%), and Grade 3 (1%) adverse reactions. Patients received high-dose corticosteroids for a median duration of 10 days (range: 1 day to 2.3 months). Pneumonitis led to discontinuation of KEYTRUDA in 26 (4.5%) of patients. Of the patients who developed pneumonitis, 54% interrupted KEYTRUDA, 63% discontinued KEYTRUDA, and 71% had resolution.

Immune-Mediated Colitis

KEYTRUDA can cause immune-mediated colitis, which may present with diarrhea. Cytomegalovirus infection/reactivation has been reported in patients with corticosteroid-refractory immune-mediated colitis. In cases of corticosteroid-refractory colitis, consider repeating infectious workup to exclude alternative etiologies. Immune-mediated colitis occurred in 1.7% (48/2799) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 4 (<0.1%), Grade 3 (1.1%), and Grade 2 (0.4%) reactions. Systemic corticosteroids were required in 69% (33/48); additional immunosuppressant therapy was required in 4.2% of patients. Colitis led to permanent discontinuation of KEYTRUDA in 0.5% (15) and withholding in 0.5% (13) of patients. All patients who were withheld reinitiated KEYTRUDA after symptom improvement; of these, 23% had recurrence. Colitis resolved in 85% of the 48 patients.

Hepatotoxicity and Immune-Mediated Hepatitis

KEYTRUDA as a Single Agent

KEYTRUDA can cause immune-mediated hepatitis. Immune-mediated hepatitis occurred in 0.7% (19/2799) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 4 (<0.1%), Grade 3 (0.4%), and Grade 2 (0.1%) reactions. Systemic corticosteroids were required in 68% (13/19) of patients; additional immunosuppressant therapy was required in 11% of patients. Hepatitis led to permanent discontinuation of KEYTRUDA in 0.2% (6) and withholding in 0.3% (9) of patients. All patients who were withheld reinitiated KEYTRUDA after symptom improvement; of these, none had recurrence. Hepatitis resolved in 79% of the 19 patients.

KEYTRUDA With Axitinib

KEYTRUDA in combination with axitinib can cause hepatic toxicity. Monitor liver enzymes before initiation of and periodically throughout treatment. Consider monitoring more frequently as compared to when the drugs are administered as single agents. For elevated liver enzymes, interrupt KEYTRUDA and axitinib, and consider administering corticosteroids as needed. With the combination of KEYTRUDA and axitinib, Grades 3 and 4 increased alanine aminotransferase (ALT) (20%) and increased aspartate aminotransferase (AST) (13%) were seen at a higher frequency compared to KEYTRUDA alone. Fifty-nine percent of the patients with increased ALT received systemic corticosteroids. In patients with ALT ≥3 times upper limit of normal (ULN) (Grades 2-4, n=116), ALT resolved to Grades 0-1 in 94%. Among the 92 patients who were rechallenged with either KEYTRUDA (n=3) or axitinib (n=34) administered as a single agent or with both (n=55), recurrence of ALT ≥3 times ULN was observed in 1 patient receiving KEYTRUDA, 16 patients receiving axitinib, and 24 patients receiving both. All patients with a recurrence of ALT ≥3 ULN subsequently recovered from the event.

Immune-Mediated Endocrinopathies

Adrenal Insufficiency

KEYTRUDA can cause primary or secondary adrenal insufficiency. For Grade 2 or higher, initiate symptomatic treatment, including hormone replacement as clinically indicated. Withhold KEYTRUDA depending on severity. Adrenal insufficiency occurred in 0.8% (22/2799) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 4 (<0.1%), Grade 3 (0.3%), and Grade 2 (0.3%) reactions. Systemic corticosteroids were required in 77% (17/22) of patients; of these, the majority remained on systemic corticosteroids. Adrenal insufficiency led to permanent discontinuation of KEYTRUDA in <0.1% (1) and withholding in 0.3% (8) of patients. All patients who were withheld reinitiated KEYTRUDA after symptom improvement.

Hypophysitis

KEYTRUDA can cause immune-mediated hypophysitis. Hypophysitis can present with acute symptoms associated with mass effect such as headache, photophobia, or visual field defects. Hypophysitis can cause hypopituitarism. Initiate hormone replacement as indicated. Withhold or permanently discontinue KEYTRUDA depending on severity. Hypophysitis occurred in 0.6% (17/2799) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 4 (<0.1%), Grade 3 (0.3%), and Grade 2 (0.2%) reactions. Systemic corticosteroids were required in 94% (16/17) of patients; of these, the majority remained on systemic corticosteroids. Hypophysitis led to permanent discontinuation of KEYTRUDA in 0.1% (4) and withholding in 0.3% (7) of patients. All patients who were withheld reinitiated KEYTRUDA after symptom improvement.

Thyroid Disorders

KEYTRUDA can cause immune-mediated thyroid disorders. Thyroiditis can present with or without endocrinopathy. Hypothyroidism can follow hyperthyroidism. Initiate hormone replacement for hypothyroidism or institute medical management of hyperthyroidism as clinically indicated. Withhold or permanently discontinue KEYTRUDA depending on severity. Thyroiditis occurred in 0.6% (16/2799) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 2 (0.3%). None discontinued, but KEYTRUDA was withheld in <0.1% (1) of patients.

Hyperthyroidism occurred in 3.4% (96/2799) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 3 (0.1%) and Grade 2 (0.8%). It led to permanent discontinuation of KEYTRUDA in <0.1% (2) and withholding in 0.3% (7) of patients. All patients who were withheld reinitiated KEYTRUDA after symptom improvement. Hypothyroidism occurred in 8% (237/2799) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 3 (0.1%) and Grade 2 (6.2%). It led to permanent discontinuation of KEYTRUDA in <0.1% (1) and withholding in 0.5% (14) of patients. All patients who were withheld reinitiated KEYTRUDA after symptom improvement. The majority of patients with hypothyroidism required long-term thyroid hormone replacement. The incidence of new or worsening hypothyroidism was higher in 1185 patients with HNSCC, occurring in 16% of patients receiving KEYTRUDA as a single agent or in combination with platinum and FU, including Grade 3 (0.3%) hypothyroidism. The incidence of new or worsening hypothyroidism was higher in 389 adult patients with cHL (17%) receiving KEYTRUDA as a single agent, including Grade 1 (6.2%) and Grade 2 (10.8%) hypothyroidism. The incidence of new or worsening hyperthyroidism was higher in 580 patients with resected NSCLC, occurring in 11% of patients receiving KEYTRUDA as a single agent as adjuvant treatment, including Grade 3 (0.2%) hyperthyroidism. The incidence of new or worsening hypothyroidism was higher in 580 patients with resected NSCLC, occurring in 22% of patients receiving KEYTRUDA as a single agent as adjuvant treatment (KEYNOTE-091), including Grade 3 (0.3%) hypothyroidism.

Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus (DM), Which Can Present With Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Monitor patients for hyperglycemia or other signs and symptoms of diabetes. Initiate treatment with insulin as clinically indicated. Withhold KEYTRUDA depending on severity. Type 1 DM occurred in 0.2% (6/2799) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA. It led to permanent discontinuation in <0.1% (1) and withholding of KEYTRUDA in <0.1% (1) of patients. All patients who were withheld reinitiated KEYTRUDA after symptom improvement.

Immune-Mediated Nephritis With Renal Dysfunction

KEYTRUDA can cause immune-mediated nephritis. Immune-mediated nephritis occurred in 0.3% (9/2799) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 4 (<0.1%), Grade 3 (0.1%), and Grade 2 (0.1%) reactions. Systemic corticosteroids were required in 89% (8/9) of patients. Nephritis led to permanent discontinuation of KEYTRUDA in 0.1% (3) and withholding in 0.1% (3) of patients. All patients who were withheld reinitiated KEYTRUDA after symptom improvement; of these, none had recurrence. Nephritis resolved in 56% of the 9 patients.

Immune-Mediated Dermatologic Adverse Reactions

KEYTRUDA can cause immune-mediated rash or dermatitis. Exfoliative dermatitis, including Stevens-Johnson syndrome, drug rash with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms, and toxic epidermal necrolysis, has occurred with anti–PD-1/PD-L1 treatments. Topical emollients and/or topical corticosteroids may be adequate to treat mild to moderate nonexfoliative rashes. Withhold or permanently discontinue KEYTRUDA depending on severity. Immune-mediated dermatologic adverse reactions occurred in 1.4% (38/2799) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 3 (1%) and Grade 2 (0.

Contacts

Media Contacts:

Julie Cunningham

(617) 519-6264

Chrissy Trank

(640) 650-0694

Investor Contacts:

Peter Dannenbaum

(732) 594-1579

Damini Chokshi

(732) 594-1577

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