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Merck and Eisai Receive Third Breakthrough Therapy Designation from FDA for KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) plus LENVIMA® (lenvatinib) Combination Treatment

Designation Granted for Potential First-Line Treatment of Patients with Advanced Unresectable Hepatocellular Carcinoma Not Amenable to Locoregional Treatment

KENILWORTH, N.J. & WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–$MRK #Eisai–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 granted Breakthrough Therapy designation for KEYTRUDA, Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy, in combination with LENVIMA, the orally available kinase inhibitor discovered by Eisai, for the potential first-line treatment of patients with advanced unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) not amenable to locoregional treatment. This is the third Breakthrough Therapy designation for the KEYTRUDA plus LENVIMA combination and is based on updated interim results from the Phase 1b trial KEYNOTE-524/Study 116. An earlier interim analysis was presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2019. The first two Breakthrough Therapy designations for the combination were in advanced and/or metastatic renal cell carcinoma and advanced and/or metastatic non-microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H)/proficient mismatch repair (pMMR) endometrial carcinoma, received in January 2018 and July 2018, respectively. The combination of KEYTRUDA plus LENVIMA is investigational. The efficacy and safety of this combination has not been established. The KEYTRUDA plus LENVIMA combination is not approved in any cancer types today.

As part of our ongoing collaboration with Eisai, we are committed to evaluating the potential of KEYTRUDA plus LENVIMA across a number of different types of cancer,” said Dr. Jonathan Cheng, Vice President, Oncology Clinical Research, Merck Research Laboratories. “With this Breakthrough Therapy designation from the FDA, we look forward to working with Eisai to potentially build upon our existing indications for this difficult-to-treat cancer, so that we can help patients through a combination approach.”


We are excited that the FDA has recognized the potential of KEYTRUDA plus LENVIMA in combination in advanced unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma not amenable to locoregional treatment with this Breakthrough Therapy designation,” said Dr. Takashi Owa, Vice President, Chief Medicine Creation and Chief Discovery Officer, Oncology Business Group at Eisai. “We are dedicated to working together with Merck to potentially bring another important option to patients.”

The Breakthrough Therapy designation is intended to expedite development and review of medicines for serious or life-threatening conditions and to qualify for this designation, preliminary clinical evidence must demonstrate that the therapy may provide substantial improvement over currently available therapy on at least one clinically significant endpoint.

About KEYNOTE-524/Study 116

KEYNOTE-524/Study 116 is a multi-center, open-label, single-arm Phase 1b study evaluating the safety and efficacy of the combination of KEYTRUDA (200 mg intravenously every three weeks) and LENVIMA (12 mg/day for patients weighing 60 kg or more, and 8 mg/day for patients weighing less than 60 kg) in patients with unresectable HCC, Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer (BCLC) stage B (not eligible for transarterial chemoembolization [TACE]) or C, Child-Pugh class A, and ECOG performance status (PS) of 0 or 1. The primary endpoints are tolerability and safety, and the secondary endpoints include overall survival (OS), objective response rate (ORR), progression-free survival (PFS) and time to progression (TTP) using modified Response Evaluation Criteria In Solid Tumors (mRECIST) criteria. Tumor assessments of complete response (CR) or partial response (PR) were confirmed at least four weeks (or longer) after initial response. The first part of the trial evaluated tolerability by assessing dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs) during the first cycle of treatment in patients for whom no other appropriate therapy was available. After tolerability was confirmed, additional patients with no prior systemic therapy for unresectable HCC were enrolled in the expansion part of the trial, which is evaluating ORR and duration of response as measured by mRECIST and Response Evaluation Criteria In Solid Tumors (RECIST 1.1) based on independent imaging review (IIR).

About Hepatocellular Carcinoma

The prevalence and mortality rate of liver cancer have been rising steadily over the past decade. In 2019, it is estimated there will be more than 42,000 new liver cancer cases diagnosed in the U.S. (including intrahepatic bile duct cancer). Additionally, it is estimated there will be nearly 32,000 deaths from liver cancer in the U.S. Liver cancer — which is often diagnosed at an advanced stage — has one of the highest mortality rates of solid cancers, with a five-year survival rate of about 18%. Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most common type of liver cancer, accounting for approximately 90% of these cases. The stage of disease at diagnosis largely determines the treatment approach, with potentially curative options, like resection or transplantation, only available for early-stage HCC. Unresectable HCC, a type of liver cancer that cannot be removed by surgery, has a worse prognosis, with a median survival of less than one year. Unfortunately, approximately 70% of patients are diagnosed too late to be eligible for resection, ablation or transplantation, and there have been limited treatment options available for patients with unresectable disease.

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 1,000 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.

KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Indications and Dosing

Melanoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma. The recommended dose of KEYTRUDA in patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma is 200 mg administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every three weeks until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity.

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the adjuvant treatment of patients with melanoma with involvement of lymph node(s) following complete resection. The recommended dose of KEYTRUDA for the adjuvant treatment of adult patients with melanoma is 200 mg administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every three weeks until disease recurrence, unacceptable toxicity, or for up to 12 months in patients without disease recurrence.

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.

In NSCLC, the recommended dose of KEYTRUDA is 200 mg administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every three weeks until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression.

When administering KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy, KEYTRUDA should be administered prior to chemotherapy when given on the same day. See also the Prescribing Information for the chemotherapy agents administered in combination with KEYTRUDA, as appropriate.

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 one 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. In SCLC, the recommended dose of KEYTRUDA is 200 mg administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every three weeks until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression.

Head and Neck 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 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.

In HNSCC, the recommended dose of KEYTRUDA is 200 mg administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every 3 weeks until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression.

When administering KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy, administer KEYTRUDA prior to chemotherapy when given on the same day. Refer to the Prescribing Information for the chemotherapy agents administered in combination with KEYTRUDA for recommended dosing information, as appropriate.

Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients with refractory classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL), or who have relapsed after 3 or more prior lines 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 the confirmatory trials. In adults with cHL, KEYTRUDA 200 mg is administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every three weeks until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression. In pediatric patients with cHL, KEYTRUDA is administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes at a dose of 2 mg/kg (up to a maximum of 200 mg) every three weeks until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression.

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

In adults with PMBCL, KEYTRUDA 200 mg is administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every three weeks until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression. In pediatric patients with PMBCL, KEYTRUDA is administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes at a dose of 2 mg/kg (up to a maximum of 200 mg) every three weeks until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression.

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 the 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.

In locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma, KEYTRUDA 200 mg is administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every three weeks until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression.

Microsatellite Instability-High (MSI-H) 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.

In adult patients with MSI-H cancer, KEYTRUDA 200 mg is administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every three weeks until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression. In pediatric patients with MSI-H cancer, KEYTRUDA is administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes at a dose of 2 mg/kg (up to a maximum of 200 mg) every three weeks until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression.

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. The recommended dose of KEYTRUDA is 200 mg as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every three weeks until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression.

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. The recommended dose of KEYTRUDA is 200 mg as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every three weeks until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression.

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. The recommended dose of KEYTRUDA is 200 mg as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every three weeks until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients with recurrent locally advanced or metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma. 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 recommended dose of KEYTRUDA in adults is 200 mg administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every three weeks until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression. The recommended dose of KEYTRUDA in pediatric patients is 2 mg/kg (up to a maximum of 200 mg), administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every three weeks until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression.

Renal Cell Carcinoma

KEYTRUDA, in combination with axitinib, is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC). In RCC, KEYTRUDA 200 mg is administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every 3 weeks in combination with 5 mg axitinib orally twice daily until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity, or for KEYTRUDA, up to 24 months in patients without disease progression. When axitinib is used in combination with KEYTRUDA, dose escalation of axitinib above the initial 5 mg dose may be considered at intervals of six weeks or longer. See also the Prescribing Information for recommended axitinib dosing information.

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 Grade 3-5 in 1.5% 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 hypophysitis, thyroid disorders, and type 1 diabetes mellitus. 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. Hyperthyroidism occurred in 3.4% (96/2799) of patients, including Grade 2 (0.8%) and 3 (0.1%), and thyroiditis occurred in 0.6% (16/2799) of patients, including Grade 2 (0.3%). Type 1 diabetes mellitus, including diabetic ketoacidosis, occurred in 0.2% (6/2799) of patients.

Monitor patients for signs and symptoms of hypophysitis (including hypopituitarism and adrenal insufficiency), thyroid function (prior to and periodically during treatment), and hyperglycemia. For hypophysitis, administer corticosteroids and hormone replacement as clinically indicated. Withhold KEYTRUDA for Grade 2 and withhold or discontinue for Grade 3 or 4 hypophysitis. Administer hormone replacement for hypothyroidism and manage hyperthyroidism with thionamides and beta-blockers as appropriate. Withhold or discontinue KEYTRUDA for Grade 3 or 4 hyperthyroidism. Administer insulin for type 1 diabetes and withhold KEYTRUDA and administer antihyperglycemics in patients with severe hyperglycemia.

Contacts

Merck Media Relations

Pamela Eisele: (267) 305-3558

Kristen Drake: (908) 334-4688

Merck Investor Relations

Teri Loxam: (908) 740-1986

Michael DeCarbo: (908) 740-1807

Eisai Inc. Media Relations

Michele Randazzo: (201) 746-297

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