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Keytruda becomes first anti-PD-1 therapy for patients with advanced cervical cancer

The US Food and Drug Administration approved Merck’s Keytruda (pembrolizumab) for 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. 

Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, said on Tuesday this indication is approved under the FDA’s accelerated approval regulations 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, Merck said.

“Keytruda is now the first anti-PD-1 therapy approved for the treatment of advanced cervical cancer, providing an important new second-line option for certain patients with this disease,” said Dr. Roy Baynes, senior vice president and head of global clinical development, chief medical officer, Merck Research Laboratories. “This approval also marks the first indication for KEYTRUDA in a gynecologic cancer and reflects our ongoing commitment to bring forward innovative treatment options across a broad range of cancers, including cancers that disproportionately affect women.”

Dr. Bradley Monk, medical director of US Oncology Research Gynecology Program and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at University of Arizona’s College of Medicine and Creighton University School of Medicine, said that even with the many advances observed across gynecologic cancers, new treatment options have been lacking for previously treated patients with advanced cervical cancer. He said that the approval of Keytruda in this indication is important news. “As an oncologist, it is exciting to see a much needed option made available to these patients,” he said.

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