Merck’s KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Given After Surgery Reduced the Risk of Disease Recurrence or Death by 32% Versus Placebo as Adjuvant Therapy in Patients With Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC)

Merck’s KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Given After Surgery Reduced the Risk of Disease Recurrence or Death by 32% Versus Placebo as Adjuvant Therapy in Patients With Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC)




Merck’s KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Given After Surgery Reduced the Risk of Disease Recurrence or Death by 32% Versus Placebo as Adjuvant Therapy in Patients With Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC)

KEYNOTE-564 is the First Phase 3 Study to Show Positive Results for Adjuvant Immunotherapy in RCC

First-Time Disease-Free Survival Data to be Presented During Plenary Session at the 2021 ASCO Annual Meeting

KENILWORTH, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–$MRK #MRK–Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, today announced first-time results from the pivotal Phase 3 KEYNOTE-564 trial evaluating KEYTRUDA, Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy, for the potential adjuvant treatment of patients with renal cell carcinoma (RCC) at intermediate-high or high risk of recurrence following nephrectomy (surgical removal of a kidney) or following nephrectomy and resection of metastatic lesions. After a median follow-up of 24.1 months (14.9-41.5), KEYTRUDA demonstrated a statistically significant and clinically meaningful reduction in the risk of disease recurrence or death by 32% compared to placebo (HR=0.68 [95% CI, 0.53–0.87]; p=0.0010). Additionally, a favorable trend in overall survival (OS) was observed with a 46% reduction in the risk of death with KEYTRUDA as compared to placebo (HR=0.54 [95% CI, 0.30–0.96]; p=0.0164). As previously announced, the trial will continue to evaluate OS, a key secondary endpoint.

With the results of KEYNOTE-564, pembrolizumab is the first immunotherapy to show a clinical benefit in the adjuvant setting in kidney cancer,” said Dr. Toni K. Choueiri, director of the Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “It took several decades to achieve this milestone. We hope to build on this important research and provide new treatment options to kidney cancer patients.”

As nearly half of early-stage renal cell carcinoma patients experience disease recurrence after surgery, we are particularly encouraged to see that KEYTRUDA demonstrated a statistically significant reduction in the risk of recurrence or death by 32% compared with placebo in this study,” said Dr. Scot Ebbinghaus, vice president, clinical research, Merck Research Laboratories. “These data highlight the opportunity for KEYTRUDA to become a new standard of care for patients with early-stage renal cell carcinoma and we look forward to working closely with regulatory authorities to make this treatment option available to patients.”

The late-breaking results will be presented in the Plenary session of the 2021 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting (Abstract #LBA5) on Sunday, June 6, 2021. As announced, data spanning more than 20 types of cancer will be presented from Merck’s oncology research program at ASCO. A compendium of presentations and posters of Merck-led studies will be posted by Merck on Friday, June 4 at 9 a.m. ET. Follow Merck on Twitter via @Merck and keep up to date with ASCO news and updates by using the hashtag #ASCO21.

Merck is continuing to study KEYTRUDA, in combination or as monotherapy, as well as other investigational products across multiple settings and stages of RCC including adjuvant and advanced or metastatic disease through our broad clinical development program, which includes over 20 clinical studies and more than 4,000 patients.

KEYTRUDA is currently approved in the U.S., Europe and Japan in combination with axitinib for the first-line treatment of patients with advanced RCC.

Study Design and Additional Data from KEYNOTE-564

KEYNOTE-564 is a randomized, double-blind, Phase 3 trial (ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03142334) evaluating KEYTRUDA monotherapy versus placebo for the adjuvant treatment of patients with RCC who have undergone nephrectomy and who have intermediate-high risk, high risk, or M1 no evidence of disease (M1 NED) RCC with clear cell component. The study enrolled 994 patients who were randomized to receive either KEYTRUDA (200 mg intravenously [IV] on Day 1 of each three-week cycle for up to 17 cycles) or placebo (saline solution IV on Day 1 of each three-week cycle for up to 17 cycles). The primary endpoint is disease-free survival (DFS), and the secondary endpoints include OS and safety.

As of data cutoff (Dec. 14, 2020), the median study follow-up was 24.1 months. Findings showed KEYTRUDA demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in DFS in patients with RCC following nephrectomy or following nephrectomy and resection of metastatic lesions compared with placebo (HR=0.68 [95% CI, 0.53–0.87]; p=0.0010). Additionally, the two-year estimated DFS rate was 77.3% with KEYTRUDA versus 68.1% with placebo. Overall, the DFS benefit was consistent across subgroups. Median DFS was not achieved in either treatment arm based on event accrual.

Grade 3-5 treatment-related adverse events (TRAEs) occurred in 18.9% of patients in the KEYTRUDA arm and 1.2% of patients in the placebo arm. TRAEs resulting in discontinuation of any treatment occurred in 17.6% of patients in the KEYTRUDA arm and 0.6% of patients in the placebo arm. The most common TRAEs of any grade (occurring in ≥5% of patients) were fatigue (20.3%), pruritus (18.6%) and hypothyroidism (17.6%) in the KEYTRUDA arm and fatigue (14.3%), pruritus (11.5%) and diarrhea (10.3%) in the placebo arm. The most common immune-mediated adverse events of any grade (occurring in ≥3% of patients) were hypothyroidism (21.1%) and hyperthyroidism (11.9%) in the KEYTRUDA arm and hypothyroidism (3.6%) in the placebo arm. No treatment-related deaths occurred.

About Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC)

Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is by far the most common type of kidney cancer; about nine out of 10 kidney cancers are RCCs. 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. Worldwide, it is estimated there were nearly 431,300 new cases of kidney cancer diagnosed and almost 179,400 deaths from the disease in 2020. In the U.S. alone, it is estimated there will be nearly 76,100 new cases of kidney cancer diagnosed and almost 13,800 deaths from the disease in 2021.

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 1,400 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 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 Carcinoma

KEYTRUDA, in combination with trastuzumab, and 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.

KEYTRUDA, as a single agent, 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 Carcinoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic esophageal or gastroesophageal junction (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 Carcinoma

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] 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.

Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

KEYTRUDA, in combination with chemotherapy, is indicated for the treatment of patients with locally recurrent unresectable or metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) whose tumors express PD-L1 (CPS ≥10) as determined by an FDA-approved test. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on progression-free survival. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials.

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 programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1) or the programmed death ligand 1 (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. 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% of these patients interrupted KEYTRUDA, 68% discontinued KEYTRUDA, and 77% 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, which was 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.

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Contacts

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(215) 407-3536

Justine Moore

(908) 740-6449

Investor:

Peter Dannenbaum

(908) 740-1037

Courtney Ronaldo

(908) 740-6132

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