KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Approved as First Anti-PD-1 Therapy in Japan for First-Line Treatment of Patients with Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) Whose Tumors Express High Levels of PD-L1
December 19, 2016 7:00 am ET
KEYTRUDA Also Approved for Second-Line Treatment of Patients with Advanced NSCLC Whose Tumors Express PD-L1
Merck (NYSE:MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada,
today announced that KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab), the company’s
anti-PD-1 therapy, has been approved in Japan for the treatment of
certain patients with PD-L1-positive unresectable advanced/recurrent
non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in the first- and second-line
treatment settings at a fixed dose of 200 mg every three weeks. MSD will
manufacture and market KEYTRUDA in Japan and will promote it with Taiho
Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd.
“This approval in both the first- and second-line settings for advanced
non-small cell lung cancer in patients whose tumors express PD-L1 marks
an important milestone in Japan,” said Dr. Roger M. Perlmutter,
president, Merck Research Laboratories. “Through advanced research,
Merck is demonstrating its commitment to bringing meaningful therapeutic
advances to people with cancer throughout the world.”
The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare (MHLW) approval is
supported by findings from both the KEYNOTE-024 and KEYNOTE-010 studies.
KEYNOTE-024 is a randomized, open-label, phase 3 study evaluating
KEYTRUDA monotherapy at a fixed dose of 200 mg compared to standard of
care platinum-containing chemotherapy for the treatment of patients with
both squamous and non-squamous metastatic NSCLC. The study enrolled
patients who had not received prior systemic chemotherapy treatment for
their metastatic disease and whose tumors had high PD-L1 expression (as
defined by a tumor proportion score [TPS] of 50 percent or more) with no
EGFR or ALK aberrations. KEYNOTE-010 is an open-label, randomized, phase
2/3 trial assessing two doses of KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) (2 mg/kg or 10
mg/kg every three weeks) compared to docetaxel (75 mg/m2 every three
weeks), a standard of care chemotherapy. This study enrolled patients
with any level of PD-L1 expression (as defined by a TPS of one percent
or more) who had progressed following platinum-containing chemotherapy
and, if appropriate, targeted therapy for EGFR or ALK genomic tumor
The PD-L1 IHC 22C3 PharmDx™ kit made by Dako North America, Inc., an
Agilent Technologies Company, was approved in Japan on Nov. 25 for use
in detecting PD-L1, an immune-related biomarker expressed on some tumor
cells. The diagnostic is intended to aid in identifying appropriate
patients for treatment with KEYTRUDA, including previously treated
patients whose tumors have any level of PD-L1 expression and previously
untreated patients whose tumors have high levels of PD-L1 expression.
Tumors with a TPS of less than one percent are considered to have no
KEYTRUDA is a humanized monoclonal antibody that works by increasing the
ability of the body’s immune system to help detect and fight tumor
cells. KEYTRUDA 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.
KEYTRUDA is administered as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes
every three weeks for the approved indications. KEYTRUDA for injection
is supplied in a 100 mg single use vial.
KEYTRUDA Indications and Dosing in the U.S.
KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with unresectable or
metastatic melanoma at a dose of 2 mg/kg every three weeks until disease
progression or unacceptable toxicity.
KEYTRUDA is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with
metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors have high
PD-L1 expression [tumor proportion score (TPS) ≥50%] as determined by an
FDA-approved test, with no EGFR or ALK genomic tumor aberrations.
KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) is also 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 metastatic NSCLC, KEYTRUDA is administered at a fixed dose of 200 mg
every three weeks until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity, or
up to 24 months in patients without disease progression.
Head and Neck Cancer
KEYTRUDA 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. 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 HNSCC, KEYTRUDA is
administered at a fixed dose of 200 mg every three weeks until disease
progression, unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients
without disease progression.
Selected Important Safety Information for KEYTRUDA
KEYTRUDA can cause immune-mediated pneumonitis, including fatal cases.
Pneumonitis occurred in 94 (3.4%) of 2799 patients receiving KEYTRUDA,
including Grade 1 (0.8%), 2 (1.3%), 3 (0.9%), 4 (0.3%), and 5 (0.1%)
pneumonitis, and occurred more frequently in patients with a history of
prior thoracic radiation (6.9%) compared to those without (2.9%).
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.
KEYTRUDA can cause immune-mediated colitis. Colitis occurred in 48
(1.7%) of 2799 patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 2 (0.4%), 3
(1.1%), and 4 (<0.1%) colitis. 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.
KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) can cause immune-mediated hepatitis. Hepatitis
occurred in 19 (0.7%) of 2799 patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including
Grade 2 (0.1%), 3 (0.4%), and 4 (<0.1%) hepatitis. 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.
KEYTRUDA can cause hypophysitis. Hypophysitis occurred in 17 (0.6%) of
2799 patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 2 (0.2%), 3 (0.3%),
and 4 (<0.1%) hypophysitis. Monitor patients for signs and symptoms of
hypophysitis (including hypopituitarism and adrenal insufficiency).
Administer corticosteroids and hormone replacement as clinically
indicated. Withhold KEYTRUDA for Grade 2; withhold or discontinue for
Grade 3 or 4 hypophysitis.
KEYTRUDA can cause thyroid disorders, including hyperthyroidism,
hypothyroidism, and thyroiditis. Hyperthyroidism occurred in 96 (3.4%)
of 2799 patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 2 (0.8%) and 3
(0.1%) hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism occurred in 237 (8.5%) of 2799
patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 2 (6.2%) and 3 (0.1%)
hypothyroidism. Thyroiditis occurred in 16 (0.6%) of 2799 patients
receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 2 (0.3%) thyroiditis. Monitor
patients for changes in thyroid function (at the start of treatment,
periodically during treatment, and as indicated based on clinical
evaluation) and for clinical signs and symptoms of thyroid disorders.
Administer replacement hormones for hypothyroidism and manage
hyperthyroidism with thionamides and beta-blockers as appropriate.
Withhold or discontinue KEYTRUDA for Grade 3 or 4 hyperthyroidism.
KEYTRUDA can cause type 1 diabetes mellitus, including diabetic
ketoacidosis, which have been reported in 6 (0.2%) of 2799 patients.
Monitor patients for hyperglycemia or other signs and symptoms of
diabetes. Administer insulin for type 1 diabetes, and withhold KEYTRUDA
and administer antihyperglycemics in patients with severe hyperglycemia.
KEYTRUDA can cause immune-mediated nephritis. Nephritis occurred in 9
(0.3%) of 2799 patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 2 (0.1%), 3
(0.1%), and 4 (<0.1%) nephritis. Monitor patients for changes in renal
function. Administer corticosteroids for Grade 2 or greater nephritis.
Withhold KEYTRUDA for Grade 2; permanently discontinue KEYTRUDA for
Grade 3 or 4 nephritis
KEYTRUDA can cause other clinically important immune-mediated adverse
reactions. For suspected immune-mediated adverse reactions, ensure
adequate evaluation to confirm etiology or exclude other causes. Based
on the severity of the adverse reaction, withhold KEYTRUDA and
administer corticosteroids. Upon improvement to Grade 1 or less,
initiate corticosteroid taper and continue to taper over at least 1
month. Based on limited data from clinical studies in patients whose
immune-related adverse reactions could not be controlled with
corticosteroid use, administration of other systemic immunosuppressants
can be considered. Resume KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) when the adverse
reaction remains at Grade 1 or less following corticosteroid taper.
Permanently discontinue KEYTRUDA for any Grade 3 immune-mediated adverse
reaction that recurs and for any life-threatening immune-mediated
The following clinically significant immune-mediated adverse reactions
occurred in less than 1% (unless otherwise indicated) of 2799 patients:
arthritis (1.5%), exfoliative dermatitis, bullous pemphigoid, rash
(1.4%), uveitis, myositis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, myasthenia gravis,
vasculitis, pancreatitis, hemolytic anemia, and partial seizures arising
in a patient with inflammatory foci in brain parenchyma.
KEYTRUDA can cause severe or life-threatening infusion-related
reactions, which have been reported in 6 (0.2%) of 2799 patients.
Monitor patients for signs and symptoms of infusion-related reactions,
including rigors, chills, wheezing, pruritus, flushing, rash,
hypotension, hypoxemia, and fever. For Grade 3 or 4 reactions, stop
infusion and permanently discontinue KEYTRUDA.
Based on its mechanism of action, KEYTRUDA can cause fetal harm when
administered to a pregnant woman. If used during pregnancy, or if the
patient becomes pregnant during treatment, apprise the patient of the
potential hazard to a fetus. Advise females of reproductive potential to
use highly effective contraception during treatment and for 4 months
after the last dose of KEYTRUDA.
KEYTRUDA was discontinued due to adverse reactions in 8% of 682 patients
with metastatic NSCLC. The most common adverse event resulting in
permanent discontinuation of KEYTRUDA was pneumonitis (1.8%). Adverse
reactions leading to interruption of KEYTRUDA occurred in 23% of
patients; the most common (≥1%) were diarrhea (1%), fatigue (1.3%),
pneumonia (1%), liver enzyme elevation (1.2%), decreased appetite
(1.3%), and pneumonitis (1%). The most common adverse reactions
(occurring in at least 20% of patients and at a higher incidence than
with docetaxel) were decreased appetite (25% vs 23%), dyspnea (23% vs
20%), and nausea (20% vs 18%).
It is not known whether KEYTRUDA is excreted in human milk. Because many
drugs are excreted in human milk, instruct women to discontinue nursing
during treatment with KEYTRUDA and for 4 months after the final dose.
Safety and effectiveness of KEYTRUDA have not been established in
Our Focus on Cancer
Our goal is to translate breakthrough science into innovative oncology
medicines to help people with cancer worldwide. At Merck, helping people
fight cancer is our passion and supporting accessibility to our cancer
medicines is our commitment. Our focus is on pursuing research in
immuno-oncology and we are accelerating every step in the journey – from
lab to clinic – to potentially bring new hope to people with cancer.
As part of our focus on cancer, Merck is committed to exploring the
potential of immuno-oncology with one of the fastest-growing development
programs in the industry. We are currently executing an expansive
research program that includes nearly 400 clinical trials evaluating our
anti-PD-1 therapy across more than 30 tumor types. We also continue to
strengthen our immuno-oncology portfolio through strategic acquisitions
and are prioritizing the development of several promising
immunotherapeutic candidates with the potential to improve the treatment
of advanced cancers.
For more information about our oncology clinical trials, visit www.merck.com/clinicaltrials.
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help the world be well. Merck is known as MSD outside the United States
and Canada. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic
therapies, and animal health products, we work with customers and
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Please see Prescribing Information for KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) at
Patient Information/Medication Guide for KEYTRUDA at
Pamela Eisele, 267-305-3558
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Teri Loxam, 908-740-1986
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