Merck Provides Further Update on Three Multiple Myeloma Studies Evaluating KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) in Combination with Pomalidomide or Lenalidomide

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July 5, 2017 3:30 pm ET

Merck (NYSE:MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada,
today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has
placed a clinical hold on KEYNOTE-183, KEYNOTE-185 and KEYNOTE-023,
three combination studies of KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab), the
company’s anti-PD-1 therapy, in the blood cancer multiple myeloma. This
decision follows a review of data by the Data Monitoring Committee in
which more deaths were observed in the KEYTRUDA arms of KEYNOTE-183 and
KEYNOTE-185 and which led to the pause in new patient enrollment, as
announced on June 12, 2017. The FDA has determined that the data
available at the present time indicate that the risks of KEYTRUDA plus
pomalidomide or lenalidomide outweigh any potential benefit for patients
with multiple myeloma. All patients enrolled in KEYNOTE-183 and
KEYNOTE-185 and those in the KEYTRUDA/lenalidomide/dexamethasone cohort
in KEYNOTE-023 will discontinue investigational treatment with KEYTRUDA.
This clinical hold does not apply to other studies with KEYTRUDA.

The following studies have been placed on full clinical hold:

  • KEYNOTE-183: “A Phase III study of Pomalidomide and low-dose
    Dexamethasone with or without Pembrolizumab (MK3475) in refractory or
    relapsed and refractory Multiple Myeloma (KEYNOTE-183).”
  • KEYNOTE-185: “A Phase III study of Lenalidomide and low-dose
    Dexamethasone with or without Pembrolizumab (MK3475) in newly
    diagnosed and treatment naïve Multiple Myeloma (KEYNOTE-185).”

The following study has been placed on partial clinical hold:

  • KEYNOTE-023 Cohort 1: “A Phase I Multi-Cohort Trial of Pembrolizumab
    (MK-3475) in Combination with Backbone Treatments for Subjects with
    Multiple Myeloma (KEYNOTE 023).” Cohort 1 of KEYNOTE-023 evaluated
    KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) in combination with lenalidomide and
    dexamethasone in patients who received prior anti-multiple myeloma
    treatment with an immunomodulatory (IMiD) treatment (lenalidomide,
    pomalidomide or thalidomide).

“Patient safety is Merck’s primary concern, and we are grateful to the
study investigators and patients involved in these studies for their
commitment to this important research,” said Dr. Roger M. Perlmutter,
president, Merck Research Laboratories. “Merck’s development program for
KEYTRUDA, spanning more than 30 different tumor types, has one priority:
helping patients suffering from cancer.”

KEYTRUDA

®

(pembrolizumab) Injection
Indications and Dosing

Melanoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with unresectable or
metastatic melanoma at a fixed dose of 200 mg every three weeks until
disease progression or unacceptable toxicity.

Lung Cancer

KEYTRUDA, as a single agent, 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, as a single agent, 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.

KEYTRUDA, in combination with pemetrexed and carboplatin, is indicated
for the first-line treatment of patients with metastatic nonsquamous
NSCLC. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on
tumor response rate and progression-free survival. Continued approval
for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description
of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials.

In metastatic NSCLC, KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) 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.

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 pemetrexed and carboplatin.

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.

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 three 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 is administered at a
fixed dose of 200 mg 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 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 (pembrolizumab) is indicated for the treatment of patients with
locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma who are not eligible
for cisplatin-containing chemotherapy. 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 also indicated for the treatment of patients with locally
advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma 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 is
administered at a fixed dose of 200 mg 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 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. In
pediatric patients with MSI-H cancer, KEYTRUDA is administered 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.

Selected Important Safety Information for KEYTRUDA

®
 (pembrolizumab)

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 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 (pembrolizumab) 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. These immune-mediated reactions may occur in any organ
system. 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 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 adverse reaction.

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. In addition,
myelitis and myocarditis were reported in other clinical trials,
including classical Hodgkin lymphoma, and postmarketing use.

Solid organ transplant rejection has been reported in postmarketing use
of KEYTRUDA. Treatment with KEYTRUDA may increase the risk of rejection
in solid organ transplant recipients. Consider the benefit of treatment
with KEYTRUDA vs the risk of possible organ rejection in these patients.

KEYTRUDA can cause severe or life-threatening infusion-related
reactions, including hypersensitivity and anaphylaxis, 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 (pembrolizumab).

Immune-mediated complications, including fatal events, occurred in
patients who underwent allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell
transplantation (HSCT) after being treated with KEYTRUDA. Of 23 patients
with cHL who proceeded to allogeneic HSCT after treatment with KEYTRUDA
on any trial, 6 patients (26%) developed graft-versus-host-disease
(GVHD), one of which was fatal, and 2 patients (9%) developed severe
hepatic veno-occlusive disease (VOD) after reduced-intensity
conditioning, one of which was fatal. Cases of fatal hyperacute GVHD
after allogeneic HSCT have also been reported in patients with lymphoma
who received a PD-1 receptor–blocking antibody before transplantation.
These complications may occur despite intervening therapy between PD-1
blockade and allogeneic HSCT. Follow patients closely for early evidence
of transplant-related complications such as hyperacute GVHD, severe
(Grade 3 to 4) acute GVHD, steroid-requiring febrile syndrome, hepatic
VOD, and other immune-mediated adverse reactions, and intervene promptly.

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.

In KEYNOTE-006, KEYTRUDA was discontinued due to adverse reactions in 9%
of 555 patients with advanced melanoma; adverse reactions leading to
discontinuation in more than one patient were colitis (1.4%), autoimmune
hepatitis (0.7%), allergic reaction (0.4%), polyneuropathy (0.4%), and
cardiac failure (0.4%). Adverse reactions leading to interruption of
KEYTRUDA occurred in 21% of patients; the most common (≥1%) was diarrhea
(2.5%). The most common adverse reactions with KEYTRUDA vs ipilimumab
were fatigue (28% vs 28%), diarrhea (26% with KEYTRUDA), rash (24% vs
23%), and nausea (21% with KEYTRUDA). Corresponding incidence rates are
listed for ipilimumab only for those adverse reactions that occurred at
the same or lower rate than with KEYTRUDA.

In KEYNOTE-002, KEYTRUDA was discontinued due to adverse reactions in
12% of 357 patients with advanced melanoma; the most common (≥1%) were
general physical health deterioration (1%), asthenia (1%), dyspnea (1%),
pneumonitis (1%), and generalized edema (1%). Adverse reactions leading
to interruption of KEYTRUDA occurred in 14% of patients; the most common
(≥1%) were dyspnea (1%), diarrhea (1%), and maculopapular rash (1%). The
most common adverse reactions with KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) vs
chemotherapy were fatigue (43% with KEYTRUDA), pruritus (28% vs 8%),
rash (24% vs 8%), constipation (22% vs 20%), nausea (22% with KEYTRUDA),
diarrhea (20% vs 20%), and decreased appetite (20% with KEYTRUDA).
Corresponding incidence rates are listed for chemotherapy only for those
adverse reactions that occurred at the same or lower rate than with
KEYTRUDA.

KEYTRUDA monotherapy 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%).

When KEYTRUDA was administered in combination with carboplatin and
pemetrexed (carbo/pem), KEYTRUDA was discontinued in 10% of 59 patients.
The most common adverse reaction resulting in discontinuation of
KEYTRUDA (≥2%) was acute kidney injury (3.4%). Adverse reactions leading
to interruption of KEYTRUDA occurred in 39% of patients; the most common
(≥2%) were fatigue (8%), neutrophil count decreased (8%), anemia (5%),
dyspnea (3.4%), and pneumonitis (3.4%).The most common adverse reactions
(≥20%) with KEYTRUDA compared to carbo/pem alone were fatigue (71% vs
50%), nausea (68% vs 56%), constipation (51% vs 37%), rash (42% vs 21%),
vomiting (39% vs 27%), dyspnea (39% vs 21%), diarrhea (37% vs 23%),
decreased appetite (31% vs 23%), headache (31% vs 16%), cough (24% vs
18%), dizziness (24% vs 16%), insomnia (24% vs 15%), pruritus (24% vs
4.8%), peripheral edema (22% vs 18%), dysgeusia (20% vs 11%), alopecia
(20% vs 3.2%), upper respiratory tract infection (20% vs 3.2%), and
arthralgia (15% vs 24%). This study was not designed to demonstrate a
statistically significant difference in adverse reaction rates for
KEYTRUDA as compared to carbo/pem alone for any specified adverse
reaction.

KEYTRUDA was discontinued due to adverse reactions in 17% of 192
patients with HNSCC. Serious adverse reactions occurred in 45% of
patients. The most frequent serious adverse reactions reported in at
least 2% of patients were pneumonia, dyspnea, confusional state,
vomiting, pleural effusion, and respiratory failure. The most common
adverse reactions (reported in at least 20% of patients) were fatigue,
decreased appetite, and dyspnea. Adverse reactions occurring in patients
with HNSCC were generally similar to those occurring in patients with
melanoma or NSCLC, with the exception of increased incidences of facial
edema (10% all Grades; 2.1% Grades 3 or 4) and new or worsening
hypothyroidism.

KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) was discontinued due to adverse reactions in 5%
of 210 patients with cHL, and treatment was interrupted due to adverse
reactions in 26% of patients. Fifteen percent (15%) of patients had an
adverse reaction requiring systemic corticosteroid therapy. Serious
adverse reactions occurred in 16% of patients. The most frequent serious
adverse reactions (≥1%) included pneumonia, pneumonitis, pyrexia,
dyspnea, GVHD, and herpes zoster. Two patients died from causes other
than disease progression; one from GVHD after subsequent allogeneic HSCT
and one from septic shock. The most common adverse reactions (occurring
in ≥20% of patients) were fatigue (26%), pyrexia (24%), cough (24%),
musculoskeletal pain (21%), diarrhea (20%), and rash (20%).

KEYNOTE-052, KEYTRUDA was discontinued due to adverse reactions in 11%
of 370 patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial
carcinoma. The most common adverse reactions (in ≥20% of patients) were
fatigue (38%), musculoskeletal pain (24%), decreased appetite (22%),
constipation (21%), rash (21%), and diarrhea (20%). Eighteen patients
(5%) died from causes other than disease progression. Five patients
(1.4%) who were treated with KEYTRUDA experienced sepsis which led to
death, and 3 patients (0.8%) experienced pneumonia which led to death.
Adverse reactions leading to interruption of KEYTRUDA occurred in 22% of
patients; the most common (≥1%) were liver enzyme increase, diarrhea,
urinary tract infection, acute kidney injury, fatigue, joint pain, and
pneumonia. Serious adverse reactions occurred in 42% of patients, the
most frequent (≥2%) of which were urinary tract infection, hematuria,
acute kidney injury, pneumonia, and urosepsis.

In KEYNOTE-045, KEYTRUDA was discontinued due to adverse reactions in 8%
of 266 patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial
carcinoma. The most common adverse reaction resulting in permanent
discontinuation of KEYTRUDA was pneumonitis (1.9%). Adverse reactions
leading to interruption of KEYTRUDA occurred in 20% of patients; the
most common (≥1%) were urinary tract infection (1.5%), diarrhea (1.5%),
and colitis (1.1%). The most common adverse reactions (≥20%) in patients
who received KEYTRUDA vs those who received chemotherapy were fatigue
(38% vs 56%), musculoskeletal pain (32% vs 27%), pruritus (23% vs 6%),
decreased appetite (21% vs 21%), nausea (21% vs 29%), and rash (20% vs
13%). Serious adverse reactions occurred in 39% of KEYTRUDA-treated
patients, the most frequent (≥2%) of which were urinary tract infection,
pneumonia, anemia, and pneumonitis.

It is not known whether KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) 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.

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 more than 500 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.

About Merck

For more than a century, Merck, a leading global biopharmaceutical
company known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, has been
inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of
the world’s most challenging diseases. Through our prescription
medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products, we
work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver
innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to
increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs
and partnerships. Today, Merck continues to be at the forefront of
research to advance the prevention and treatment of diseases that
threaten people and communities around the world – including cancer,
cardio-metabolic diseases, emerging animal diseases, Alzheimer’s disease
and infectious diseases including HIV and Ebola. For more information,
visit www.merck.com
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“company”) includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of
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Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based upon the current beliefs
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respect to pipeline products that the products will receive the
necessary regulatory approvals or that they will prove to be
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The company undertakes no obligation to publicly update any
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Please see Prescribing Information for KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) at 

http://www.merck.com/product/usa/pi_circulars/k/keytruda/keytruda_pi.pdf

 and

Patient Information/Medication Guide for KEYTRUDA at 

http://www.merck.com/product/usa/pi_circulars/k/keytruda/keytruda_mg.pdf

.



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