FDA Approves KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Plus LENVIMA® (lenvatinib) Combination for First-Line Treatment of Adult Patients With Advanced Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC)

FDA Approves KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Plus LENVIMA® (lenvatinib) Combination for First-Line Treatment of Adult Patients With Advanced Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC)




FDA Approves KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Plus LENVIMA® (lenvatinib) Combination for First-Line Treatment of Adult Patients With Advanced Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC)

KEYTRUDA Plus LENVIMA Is Now Approved for Two Types of Cancer, Including Advanced RCC

Based on Phase 3 CLEAR/KEYNOTE-581 Trial, KEYTRUDA Plus LENVIMA Significantly Reduced Risk of Disease Progression or Death by 61% Versus Sunitinib

KENILWORTH, N.J. & WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–$MRK #MRK–Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, and Eisai today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the combination of KEYTRUDA, Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy, plus LENVIMA, the orally available multiple receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor discovered by Eisai, for the first-line treatment of adult patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC). The approval is based on results from the pivotal Phase 3 CLEAR (Study 307)/KEYNOTE-581 trial, in which KEYTRUDA plus LENVIMA demonstrated statistically significant improvements versus sunitinib in the efficacy outcome measures of progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS) and confirmed objective response rate (ORR).

For PFS, KEYTRUDA plus LENVIMA reduced the risk of disease progression or death by 61% (HR=0.39 [95% CI: 0.32-0.49]; p<0.0001) with a median PFS of 23.9 months versus 9.2 months for sunitinib. For OS, KEYTRUDA plus LENVIMA reduced the risk of death by 34% (HR=0.66 [95% CI: 0.49-0.88]; p=0.0049) versus sunitinib. Additionally, the confirmed ORR was 71% (95% CI: 66-76) (n=252) for patients who received KEYTRUDA plus LENVIMA versus 36% with sunitinib (95% CI: 31-41) (n=129). KEYTRUDA plus LENVIMA achieved a complete response (CR) rate of 16% and partial response (PR) rate of 55% versus a CR rate of 4% and a PR rate of 32% for those who received sunitinib.

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. 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.

Adverse reactions, some of which can be serious or fatal, may occur with LENVIMA, including hypertension, cardiac dysfunction, arterial thromboembolic events, hepatotoxicity, renal failure or impairment, proteinuria, diarrhea, fistula formation and gastrointestinal perforation, QT interval prolongation, hypocalcemia, reversible posterior leukoencephalopathy syndrome, hemorrhagic events, impairment of thyroid stimulating hormone suppression/thyroid dysfunction, impaired wound healing, osteonecrosis of the jaw, and embryo-fetal toxicity. Based on its mechanism of action and data from animal reproduction studies, LENVIMA can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. Females of reproductive potential should be advised to use effective contraception. Based on the severity of the adverse reaction, LENVIMA should be interrupted, reduced, and/or discontinued. For more information, see “Selected Safety Information” below.

This approval is based in part on data demonstrating that KEYTRUDA plus LENVIMA significantly reduced the risk of disease progression or death versus sunitinib,” said Dr. Robert Motzer, Jack and Dorothy Byrne Chair in Clinical Oncology, Kidney Cancer Section Head, Genitourinary Oncology Service, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “This is a significant milestone for newly diagnosed patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma and introduces a promising combination option in the first-line setting.”

This FDA approval reinforces the potential of KEYTRUDA plus LENVIMA, which is now approved for two different types of cancer. In the study, KEYTRUDA plus LENVIMA demonstrated a survival benefit for patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma, supporting the importance of this combination as a new first-line treatment option for these patients,” said Dr. Gregory Lubiniecki, Vice President, Oncology Clinical Research, Merck Research Laboratories. “At Merck, we are focused on delivering meaningful innovations that extend the lives of people with cancer. We are proud to see how our collaboration with Eisai can now help to improve survival outcomes for patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma and are committed to further exploring KEYTRUDA plus LENVIMA in other difficult-to-treat cancers.”

This FDA approval is truly significant for the advanced renal cell carcinoma community. The CLEAR/KEYNOTE-581 trial shows treatment with KEYTRUDA plus LENVIMA resulted in superior outcomes across progression-free survival, overall survival and objective response rate versus sunitinib in patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma,” said Dr. Takashi Owa, Chief Medicine Creation and Chief Discovery Officer, Oncology Business Group at Eisai. “This milestone is a testament to our dedication to developing new therapeutic options for people living with advanced cancers, which is fueled by our passion for aiming to improve cancer care for patients, and amplified by the teamwork resulting from our collaboration with Merck.”

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

Dr. Motzer has provided consulting and advisory services for Merck and Eisai.

Data Supporting the Approval

The approval was based on data from the CLEAR (Study 307)/KEYNOTE-581 trial (ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT02811861), a Phase 3, multicenter, open-label, randomized trial conducted in 1,069 patients with advanced RCC in the first-line setting. Patients were enrolled regardless of PD-L1 tumor expression status. Patients with active autoimmune disease or a medical condition that required immunosuppression were ineligible. Randomization was stratified by geographic region (North America and Western Europe vs. “Rest of the World”) and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) prognostic groups (favorable vs. intermediate vs. poor risk).

Patients were randomized (1:1:1) to one of the following treatment arms:

  • LENVIMA (20 mg orally once daily) in combination with KEYTRUDA (200 mg intravenously [IV] every three weeks for up to 24 months); or
  • LENVIMA (18 mg orally once daily) in combination with everolimus (5 mg orally once daily); or
  • Sunitinib (50 mg orally once daily for four weeks on treatment, followed by two weeks off treatment).

Treatment continued until unacceptable toxicity or disease progression. Administration of KEYTRUDA plus LENVIMA was permitted beyond Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST)-defined disease progression if the patient was clinically stable and considered by the investigator to be deriving clinical benefit. KEYTRUDA was continued for a maximum of 24 months; however, treatment with LENVIMA could be continued beyond 24 months. Assessment of tumor status was performed at baseline and then every eight weeks.

The study population characteristics were: median age of 62 years (range: 29 to 88 years), 42% age 65 or older; 75% male; 74% White, 21% Asian, 1% Black, and 2% other races; 18% and 82% of patients had a baseline Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS) of 70 to 80 and 90 to 100, respectively; patient distribution by MSKCC risk categories was 27% favorable, 64% intermediate, and 9% poor. Common sites of metastases in patients were lung (68%), lymph node (45%), and bone (25%).

The major efficacy outcome measures were PFS, as assessed by independent radiologic review (IRC) according to RECIST v1.1, and OS. Additional efficacy outcome measures included confirmed ORR as assessed by IRC. KEYTRUDA in combination with LENVIMA demonstrated statistically significant improvements in PFS, OS, and ORR compared with sunitinib. Efficacy results showed:

Endpoint

KEYTRUDA 200

mg every 3 weeks

and LENVIMA 20

mg

n=355

Sunitinib

n=357

Progression-Free Survival (PFS)

Number of events, n (%)

160 (45%)

205 (57%)

Progressive disease

145 (41%)

196 (55%)

Death

15 (4%)

9 (3%)

Median PFS in months (95% CI)

23.9 (20.8, 27.7)

9.2 (6.0, 11.0)

Hazard ratio* (95% CI)

0.39 (0.32, 0.49)

p-Value

<0.0001

Overall Survival (OS)

Number of deaths, n (%)

80 (23%)

101 (28%)

Median OS in months (95% CI)

NR (33.6, NR)

NR (NR, NR)

Hazard ratio* (95% CI)

0.66 (0.49, 0.88)

p-Value

0.0049

Objective Response Rate (Confirmed)

ORR, n (%)

252 (71%)

129 (36%)

(95% CI)

(66, 76)

(31, 41)

Complete response rate

16%

4%

Partial response rate

55%

32%

p-Value

<0.0001

Tumor assessments were based on RECIST 1.1; only confirmed responses are included for ORR.

Data cutoff date = 28 Aug 2020

CI = Confidence interval; NE= Not estimable; NR= Not reached

* Hazard ratio is based on a Cox Proportional Hazards Model. Stratified by geographic region and MSKCC prognostic groups.

Two-sided p-value based on stratified log-rank test.

Two-sided p-value based upon CMH test.

The median duration of exposure to the combination therapy of KEYTRUDA and LENVIMA was 17 months (range: 0.1 to 39 months).

Fatal adverse reactions occurred in 4.3% of patients who received KEYTRUDA in combination with LENVIMA, including cardio-respiratory arrest (0.9%), sepsis (0.9%), and one case (0.3%) each of arrhythmia, autoimmune hepatitis, dyspnea, hypertensive crisis, increased blood creatinine, multiple organ dysfunction syndrome, myasthenic syndrome, myocarditis, nephritis, pneumonitis, ruptured aneurysm, and subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Serious adverse reactions occurred in 51% of patients receiving KEYTRUDA plus LENVIMA. Serious adverse reactions in ≥2% of patients were hemorrhagic events (5%), diarrhea (4%), hypertension (3%), myocardial infarction (3%), pneumonitis (3%), vomiting (3%), acute kidney injury (2%), adrenal insufficiency (2%), dyspnea (2%), and pneumonia (2%).

Permanent discontinuation of either KEYTRUDA, LENVIMA, or both due to an adverse reaction occurred in 37% of patients receiving KEYTRUDA in combination with LENVIMA; 29% KEYTRUDA only, 26% LENVIMA only and 13% both treatments. The most common adverse reactions (≥2%) resulting in permanent discontinuation of KEYTRUDA, LENVIMA, or the combination were pneumonitis (3%), myocardial infarction (3%), hepatotoxicity (3%), acute kidney injury (3%), rash (3%), and diarrhea (2%).

Dose interruptions of KEYTRUDA, LENVIMA, or both due to an adverse reaction occurred in 78% of patients receiving KEYTRUDA in combination with LENVIMA. KEYTRUDA was interrupted in 55% of patients, LENVIMA was interrupted in 73% of patients, and both treatments were interrupted in 39% of patients. The most common adverse reactions (≥3%) resulting in interruption of KEYTRUDA were diarrhea (10%), hepatotoxicity (8%), fatigue (7%), lipase increased (5%), amylase increased (4%), musculoskeletal pain (3%), hypertension (3%), rash (3%), acute kidney injury (3%), and decreased appetite (3%). LENVIMA was dose reduced in 69% of patients. The most common adverse reactions (≥5%) resulting in dose reduction or interruption of LENVIMA were diarrhea (26%), fatigue (18%), hypertension (17%), proteinuria (13%), decreased appetite (12%), palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia syndrome (PPE) (11%), nausea (9%), stomatitis (9%), musculoskeletal pain (8%), rash (8%), increased lipase (7%), abdominal pain (6%), and vomiting (6%), increased alanine aminotransferase (ALT) (5%), and increased amylase (5%). Fifteen percent (15%) of patients treated with KEYTRUDA in combination with LENVIMA received an oral prednisone equivalent to ≥40 mg daily for an immune-mediated adverse reaction. Grade 3 and 4 increased ALT or increased aspartate aminotransferase (AST) was seen in 9% of patients. Grade ≥2 increased ALT or AST was reported in 64 (18%) patients, of whom 20 (31%) received ≥40 mg daily oral prednisone equivalent. Recurrence of Grade ≥2 increased ALT or AST was observed in three patients on rechallenge in patients receiving LENVIMA and 10 patients receiving both KEYTRUDA and LENVIMA.

The most common adverse reactions (All Grades ≥20%) for KEYTRUDA plus LENVIMA were fatigue (63%), diarrhea (62%), musculoskeletal disorders (58%), hypothyroidism (57%), hypertension (56%), stomatitis (43%), decreased appetite (41%), rash (37%), nausea (36%), weight loss, dysphonia and proteinuria (30% each), PPE syndrome (29%), hemorrhagic events and abdominal pain (27% each), vomiting (26%), constipation and hepatotoxicity (25% each), headache (23%), and acute kidney injury (21%). The most common adverse reactions (Grades 3-4) for KEYTRUDA plus LENVIMA were hypertension (29%), diarrhea (10%), fatigue and hepatotoxicity (9% each), weight loss and proteinuria (8% each), acute kidney injury, hemorrhagic events and rash (5% each), musculoskeletal disorders, decreased appetite and PPE (4% each), nausea and vomiting (3% each), stomatitis and abdominal pain (2% each), and constipation, hypothyroidism and headache (1% each).

Clinically relevant adverse reaction (<20%) that occurred in patients receiving KEYTRUDA plus LENVIMA were myocardial infarction (3%) and angina pectoris (1%).

About Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC)

Worldwide, it is estimated there were more than 431,000 new cases of kidney cancer diagnosed and more than 179,000 deaths from the disease in 2020. In the U.S. alone, it is estimated there will be approximately 76,000 new cases of kidney cancer diagnosed and almost 14,000 deaths from the disease in 2021. Renal cell carcinoma is by far the most common type of kidney cancer; about nine out of 10 kidney cancer diagnoses are RCC. Renal cell carcinoma is about twice as common in men as in women. Most cases of RCC are discovered incidentally during imaging tests for other abdominal diseases. Approximately 30% of patients with RCC will have metastatic disease at diagnosis. Survival is highly dependent on the stage at diagnosis, and the five-year survival rate is 13% for patients diagnosed with metastatic disease.

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 1,500 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.

Melanoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma.

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the adjuvant treatment of patients with melanoma with involvement of lymph node(s) following complete resection.

Non-Small Cell 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 NSCLC expressing PD-L1 [tumor proportion score (TPS) ≥1%] as determined by an FDA-approved test, with no EGFR or ALK genomic tumor aberrations, and is

  • stage III where patients are not candidates for surgical resection or definitive chemoradiation, or
  • metastatic.

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.

Head and Neck Squamous Cell Cancer

KEYTRUDA, in combination with platinum and fluorouracil (FU), is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with metastatic or with unresectable, recurrent head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).

KEYTRUDA, as a single agent, is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with metastatic or with unresectable, recurrent HNSCC whose tumors express PD-L1 [combined positive score (CPS) ≥1)] as determined by an FDA-approved test.

KEYTRUDA, as a single agent, is indicated for the treatment of patients with recurrent or metastatic HNSCC with disease progression on or after platinum-containing chemotherapy.

Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL).

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of pediatric patients with refractory cHL, or cHL that has relapsed after 2 or more lines of therapy.

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. KEYTRUDA is not recommended for treatment of patients with PMBCL who require urgent cytoreductive therapy.

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 (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 confirmatory trials.

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with locally advanced or mUC who have disease progression during or following platinum-containing chemotherapy or within 12 months of neoadjuvant or adjuvant treatment with platinum-containing chemotherapy.

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

Microsatellite Instability-High or Mismatch Repair Deficient 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.

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.

Microsatellite Instability-High or Mismatch Repair Deficient Colorectal Cancer

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with unresectable or metastatic MSI-H or dMMR colorectal cancer (CRC).

Gastric Cancer

KEYTRUDA, in combination with trastuzumab, fluoropyrimidine- and platinum-containing chemotherapy, is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with locally advanced unresectable or metastatic HER2-positive gastric or gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) adenocarcinoma. 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.

Esophageal Cancer

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic esophageal or GEJ (tumors with epicenter 1 to 5 centimeters above the GEJ) carcinoma that is not amenable to surgical resection or definitive chemoradiation either:

  • in combination with platinum- and fluoropyrimidine-based chemotherapy, or
  • as a single agent after one or more prior lines of systemic therapy for patients with tumors of squamous cell histology that express PD-L1 (CPS ≥10) as determined by an FDA-approved test.

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.

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.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients with recurrent locally advanced or metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). 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.

Renal Cell Carcinoma

KEYTRUDA, in combination with axitinib, is indicated for the first-line treatment of adult patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC).

KEYTRUDA, in combination with LENVIMA, is indicated for the first-line treatment of adult patients with advanced RCC.

Endometrial Carcinoma

KEYTRUDA, in combination with LENVIMA, is indicated for the treatment of patients with advanced endometrial carcinoma that is not MSI-H or dMMR, who have disease progression following prior systemic therapy in any settings and are not candidates for curative surgery or radiation.

Tumor Mutational Burden-High Cancer

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients with unresectable or metastatic tumor mutational burden-high (TMB-H) [≥10 mutations/megabase] solid tumors, as determined by an FDA-approved test, that have progressed following prior treatment and who have no satisfactory alternative treatment options.

Contacts

Merck Media Relations
Melissa Moody: (215) 407-3536

Nikki Sullivan: (718) 644-0730

Merck Investor Relations
Peter Dannenbaum: (908) 740-1037

Raychel Kruper: (908) 740-2107

Eisai Inc. Media Relations
Michele Randazzo: (551) 579-4465

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