Merck Presents Three-Year Survival Data for KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) in Combination With Chemotherapy and Updated Phase 1/2 Data for Investigational Quavonlimab (MK-1308) in Combination With KEYTRUDA in Advanced Non‑Small Cell Lung Cancer

New Long-Term Data From KEYNOTE-021 (Cohort G) Reinforce Use of KEYTRUDA in Certain Patients with Advanced Nonsquamous NSCLC

Updated Data for Quavonlimab (MK-1308), a Novel Investigational Anti-CTLA-4 Antibody, in Combination With KEYTRUDA Were Presented; Phase 3 Study for the Combination Planned in First-Line Advanced NSCLC

KENILWORTH, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–$MRK #MRK–Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, today announced positive results from two studies from the company’s leading lung cancer clinical development program evaluating KEYTRUDA, Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy: KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy (KEYNOTE-021 [Cohort G]) and KEYTRUDA in combination with quavonlimab (MK-1308), Merck’s novel investigational anti-CTLA-4 antibody.

In KEYNOTE-021 (Cohort G), first-line treatment with KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy (n=60) demonstrated a significant improvement in objective response rates (58% vs. 33%), progression-free survival (HR=0.54 [95% CI, 0.35-0.83]) and a sustained, long-term survival benefit (HR=0.71 [95% CI, 0.45-1.12]) versus chemotherapy alone (n=63) in patients with advanced nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) regardless of PD‑L1 expression (Featured Poster #OFP01.02). Patients in Cohort G had no EGFR or ALK genomic tumor aberrations. These findings represent the longest follow-up data for an anti-PD-1/PD‑L1 therapy in combination with chemotherapy for the first-line treatment of NSCLC. Additionally, updated follow-up data from a Phase 1/2 study of quavonlimab in combination with KEYTRUDA showed encouraging anti-tumor activity and an acceptable safety profile as first-line treatment in patients with advanced NSCLC (Poster #TS01.02).

Over the last five years, KEYTRUDA has become foundational in the treatment of metastatic lung cancer. The long-term data from KEYNOTE-021 (Cohort G) reinforce the use of KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy in certain advanced lung cancer patients, while data from our oncology pipeline reflect our commitment to exploring a number of new combinations with KEYTRUDA that we believe could have a meaningful impact for more lung cancer patients,” said Dr. Vicki Goodman, vice president, oncology clinical research, Merck Research Laboratories. “Updated data from our anti-CTLA-4 antibody quavonlimab in combination with KEYTRUDA support the continued development of this new combination and a Phase 3 study of quavonlimab coformulated with KEYTRUDA in advanced non-small cell lung cancer is planned.”

Results from both studies were presented at the IASLC 2020 North America Conference on Lung Cancer hosted by the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer on Friday, Oct. 16. Follow Merck on Twitter via @Merck and keep up to date with NACLC news and updates by using the hashtag #NACLC20.

KEYTRUDA in Combination With Chemotherapy: Long-Term Data in Advanced NSCLC From KEYNOTE-021 (Cohort G) (Featured Poster #OFP01.02)

New data from Cohort G of KEYNOTE-021 (NCT02039674) demonstrated a significant improvement in objective response rates (ORR), progression-free survival (PFS) and a sustained, long-term survival benefit with KEYTRUDA in combination with pemetrexed (ALIMTA®) and platinum chemotherapy versus pemetrexed and platinum chemotherapy alone after four years of median study follow-up (49.4 months; range, 43.5 to 55.4). Cohort G of the Phase 1/2, multi-cohort, multi-center, open-label trial evaluated KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy (n=60) versus chemotherapy alone (n=63) as first-line treatment in patients with advanced nonsquamous NSCLC. Patients in Cohort G had no EGFR or ALK genomic tumor aberrations.

Findings from KEYNOTE-021 (Cohort G) showed that 50% of patients treated with KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy were alive at three years versus 37% of patients who received chemotherapy alone. KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy also reduced the risk of death by 29% (HR=0.71 [95% CI, 0.45-1.12]) versus chemotherapy alone, with a median overall survival (OS) of 34.5 versus 21.1 months. The OS benefit was observed despite a 70% (n=43/61) effective crossover rate from chemotherapy to anti‑PD‑1/PD‑L1 therapy, including 28 patients who were treated with KEYTRUDA as part of the on-study crossover.

The ORR was 58% for KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy versus 33% for chemotherapy alone. KEYTRUDA also reduced the risk of disease progression or death by 46% (HR=0.54 [95% CI, 0.35-0.83]) versus chemotherapy, with a median PFS of 24.5 months (range, 9.7 to 36.3) versus 9.9 months (range, 6.2 to 15.2). The estimated three-year PFS rate was 37% for patients who received KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy versus 16% for those who received chemotherapy alone. The median duration of response (DOR) was more than one year longer with KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy (36.3 months; range, 1.4+ to 49.3+) versus chemotherapy alone (22.8 months; range, 2.8+ to 47.2+). Additionally, 51% of patients treated with KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy had responses lasting three years versus 47% with chemotherapy alone.

Notably, 92% of patients who completed two years of treatment with KEYTRUDA were alive at three years (n=11/12). All 12 patients experienced an objective response and the estimated three-year DOR rate was 100% (median DOR not reached [NR]; range, 11.7+ to 49.3+ months).

No new safety signals for KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy were identified with long-term follow-up. Among all those treated, 39% of those who received KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy and 31% of those who received chemotherapy alone experienced Grade 3-5 treatment-related adverse events (TRAEs). Grade 3-5 TRAEs that led to discontinuation occurred in 17% of patients who received KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy and 16% of those who received chemotherapy alone. Grade 3-5 TRAEs that led to death occurred in 2% (n=1) of patients who received KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy and 3% (n=2) of those who received chemotherapy alone.

The KEYNOTE-021 (Cohort G) trial was conducted in collaboration with Eli Lilly and Company, the makers of pemetrexed (ALIMTA®).

Quavonlimab (anti-CLTA-4) in Combination With KEYTRUDA: Phase 1/2 Results in Advanced NSCLC (Poster #TS01.02)

In this first-in-human, open-label, multi-arm Phase 1/2 study (NCT03179436), quavonlimab, Merck’s novel anti-CTLA-4 therapy, was evaluated in combination with KEYTRUDA as a first-line treatment in patients with advanced NSCLC. In the dose-confirmation phase, patients received quavonlimab (25 mg or 75 mg) every three weeks (Q3W) or every six weeks (Q6W) in combination with KEYTRUDA (200 mg Q3W for up to 35 cycles). The primary objective of the study was safety and tolerability; secondary and exploratory objectives included ORR per RECIST v1.1 by blinded independent central review (BICR), PFS, OS and DOR. Response based on PD-L1 status was retrospectively evaluated using tumor proportion score (TPS) as a continuous variable.

Findings showed that quavonlimab in combination with KEYTRUDA had an acceptable safety profile with no unexpected toxicities and suggested encouraging anti-tumor activity. Any-grade adverse events occurred in 98% of patients; TRAEs occurred 85% of patients. Grade ≥3 TRAEs occurred in 36% of patients across all treatment arms and the most common TRAEs (>10% in any arm) were increased alanine aminotransferase (8%), pneumonitis (8%) and increased aspartate aminotransferase (6%).

With 16.9 months of median follow-up (range, 7.0 to 21.3), results from the study showed the effect of quavonlimab in combination with KEYTRUDA across secondary and exploratory endpoints, including ORR, PFS, OS and DOR. Responses to quavonlimab in combination with KEYTRUDA were observed regardless of PD-L1 expression with higher TPS scores significantly associated with better response (one-sided p=0.015). These safety and efficacy data support the 25 mg Q6W dose as the recommended Phase 2 dose of quavonlimab when used in combination with KEYTRUDA.

 

Quavonlimab

25 mg Q6W + KEYTRUDA

n=40

 

 

Quavonlimab

25 mg Q3W + KEYTRUDA

n=40

 

 

Quavonlimab

75 mg Q6W + KEYTRUDA

n=40

 

 

Quavonlimab

75 mg Q3W + KEYTRUDA

n=14

 

 

Total

N=134

ORR, %

(95%, CI)

 

 

37.5

(22.7-54.2)

 

 

40

(24.9-56.7)

 

 

27.5

(14.6-43.9)

 

 

35.7

(12.8-64.9)

 

 

35.1

(27.0-43.8)

PFS, median

(95%, CI), mo

 

 

7.8

(4.2-14.8)

 

 

6.0

(2.0-8.3)

 

 

6.0

(3.5-8.1)

 

 

3.4

(1.8-NE)

 

 

6.1

(4.2-7.3)

OS, median

(95%, CI), mo

 

 

18.1

(14.2-NE)

 

 

18.1

(9.1-21.8)

 

 

17.1

(9.0-NE)

 

 

13.7

(3.5-NE)

 

 

16.5

(14.2-21.8)

DOR, median

(95%, CI), mo

 

 

NR

(4.0 to 21.6+)

 

 

7.9

(2.8 to 21.4+)

 

 

15.9

(3.4 to 21.4+)

 

 

NR

(8.8+ to 16.3+)

 

 

13.6

(2.8 to 21.6+)

About Lung Cancer

Lung cancer, which forms in the tissues of the lungs, usually within cells lining the air passages, is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than die of colon and breast cancers combined. The two main types of lung cancer are non-small cell and small cell. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for about 85% of all cases. Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) accounts for about 10% to 15% of all lung cancers. Before 2014, the five-year survival rate for patients diagnosed in the U.S. with NSCLC and SCLC was estimated to be 5% and 6%, respectively.

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 1,200 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.

About Quavonlimab (MK-1308)

Quavonlimab is a novel humanized IgG1 monoclonal antibody that binds to CTLA-4 and blocks interaction with its ligands, CD80 and CD86. Quavonlimab is currently being evaluated in combination with KEYTRUDA across multiple solid tumors as part of ongoing Phase 1 and 2 trials. A Phase 3 trial of quavonlimab coformulated with KEYTRUDA in advanced non-small cell lung cancer is planned.

Selected KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Indications

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.

Small Cell Lung Cancer

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with metastatic small cell lung cancer (SCLC) with disease progression on or after platinum-based chemotherapy and at least 1 other prior line 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.

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 head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (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 [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 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.

KEYTRUDA 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.

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, 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.

Microsatellite Instability-High or Mismatch Repair Deficient Colorectal Cancer

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

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.

Esophageal Cancer

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with recurrent locally advanced or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus whose tumors express PD-L1 (CPS ≥10) as determined by an FDA-approved test, with disease progression after one or more prior lines of systemic therapy.

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 patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC).

Tumor Mutational Burden-High

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients with unresectable or metastatic tumor mutational burden-high (TMB-H) [≥10 mutations/megabase (mut/Mb)] solid tumors, as determined by an FDA-approved test, 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 TMB-H central nervous system cancers have not been established.

Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with recurrent or metastatic cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) that is not curable by surgery or radiation.

Selected Important Safety Information for KEYTRUDA

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%). Pneumonitis occurred in 6% (18/300) of HNSCC patients receiving KEYTRUDA as a single agent, including Grades 3-5 in 1.6% of patients, and occurred in 5.4% (15/276) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA in combination with platinum and FU as first-line therapy for advanced disease, including Grades 3-5 in 1.5% of patients. Pneumonitis occurred in 8% (31/389) of patients with cHL receiving KEYTRUDA as a single agent, including Grades 3-4 in 2.3% of patients.

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 (KEYTRUDA) and Hepatotoxicity (KEYTRUDA 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. With the combination of KEYTRUDA and axitinib, Grades 3 and 4 increased ALT (20%) and increased AST (13%) were seen. Monitor liver enzymes before initiation of and periodically throughout treatment. Consider more frequent monitoring of liver enzymes 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.

Immune-Mediated Endocrinopathies

KEYTRUDA can cause adrenal insufficiency (primary and secondary), hypophysitis, thyroid disorders, and type 1 diabetes mellitus. Adrenal insufficiency occurred in 0.8% (22/2799) of patients, including Grade 2 (0.3%), 3 (0.3%), and 4 (<0.1%). 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 1185 patients with HNSCC (16%) 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 patients with cHL (17%) receiving KEYTRUDA as a single agent, including Grade 1 (6.

Contacts

Media Contacts:

Pam Eisele

(267) 305-3558

Justine Moore

(347) 281-3754

Investor Contacts:

Peter Dannenbaum

(908) 740-1037

Courtney Ronaldo

(908) 740-6132

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