Merck Statement on Blueprint Project Findings Presented at the American Association for Cancer Research 2016 Annual Meeting


April 19, 2016 1:05 pm ET

KENILWORTH, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, is
proud to be a part of the Blueprint PD-L1 Assay Comparison Project, an
important initiative to compare several new diagnostic tests for the
immune biomarker PD-L1 in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Merck
believes strongly in the importance of PD-L1 testing in NSCLC, and is
committed to supporting the Blueprint Project and overall efforts to use
diagnostics to help physicians identify the best treatment approach for
their patients with some cancers.

In oncology, testing is now common for numerous cancer biomarkers to
enable physicians to better tailor treatment decisions for each patient.
The data from a range of studies, including Merck’s studies of KEYTRUDA®
(pembrolizumab), demonstrate that PD-L1 testing can be a useful tool to
help identify patients more likely to respond to treatment with an
anti-PD-1/PD-L1 therapy in certain cancers, including NSCLC.

Phase 1 of the Blueprint Project is an important step toward
understanding the usefulness of the different PD-L1 testing approaches.
Analyses from the Blueprint Project confirm that there is high
concordance for the two approved PD-L1 diagnostics in NSCLC, including
the one used in conjunction with KEYTRUDA, the PD-L1 IHC 22C3 pharmDx
assay developed in partnership with Dako North America, Inc., an Agilent
Technologies Company.

“We are very encouraged by the findings from the Blueprint Project, and
are eager to support the greater use of biomarker testing to advance the
care of patients with cancer,” said Dr. Roy Baynes, senior vice
president and head of global clinical development, Merck Research
Laboratories. “This analysis reinforces our precision medicine approach
in NSCLC to help provide physicians and patients with greater insight
into each patient’s disease and therefore greater confidence in their
treatment decisions.”

Merck is a leader in advancing immuno-oncology through the development
of KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) alongside its Dako companion diagnostic. We
are continuing to build our knowledge of genetics and biomarkers in
order to ensure we can match KEYTRUDA with patients who are more likely
to experience benefit.

About the Blueprint Project

Results from the Blueprint Project, a first-of-its kind collaboration,
were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research 2016
Annual Meeting.

In March 2015, the AACR in partnership with the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration and the American Society of Clinical Oncology held a
one-day workshop to examine whether multiple companion diagnostics
intended for the same class of therapeutics could be harmonized. During
the workshop, a group of four pharmaceutical companies and two
diagnostic companies released a blueprint proposal to analytically
compare and characterize each of their IHC-based PD-1/PD-L1 companion
diagnostics for non-small cell lung cancer in the pre-approval stage.
The thought was that, upon approval of these tests, the information
generated by this project could lay the groundwork for additional
studies that will help inform patients, physicians, pathologists, and
others on how best to use the test results to determine treatment

About KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Injection
100 mg

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 indicated in the United States for the treatment of patients
with unresectable or metastatic melanoma.

KEYTRUDA is also indicated for the treatment of patients with metastatic
non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumors express PD-L1 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. The NSCLC
indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor
response rate and durability of response. An improvement in survival or
disease-related symptoms has not yet been established. Continued
approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and
description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials.

KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) is administered at a dose of 2 mg/kg as an
intravenous infusion over 30 minutes every three weeks for the approved

Selected Important Safety Information for KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab)

Immune-mediated pneumonitis occurred in 19 (3.5%) of 550 patients,
including Grade 2 (1.1%), 3 (1.3%), 4 (0.4%), or 5 (0.2%) pneumonitis
and occurred more frequently in patients with a history of
asthma/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (5.4%) or prior thoracic
radiation (6.0%). 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 occurred in 4 (0.7%) of 550 patients, including
Grade 2 (0.2%) or 3 (0.4%) 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.

Immune-mediated hepatitis occurred in patients receiving KEYTRUDA.
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.

Hypophysitis occurred in 1 (0.2%) of 550 patients, which was Grade 3 in
severity. 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

Hyperthyroidism occurred in 10 (1.8%) of 550 patients, including Grade 2
(0.7%) or 3 (0.3%) hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism occurred in 38 (6.9%)
of 550 patients, including Grade 2 (5.5%) or 3 (0.2%) hypothyroidism.
Thyroid disorders can occur at any time during treatment. 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.

Type 1 diabetes mellitus, including diabetic ketoacidosis, occurred in 3
(0.1%) of 2117 patients. Monitor patients for hyperglycemia or other
signs and symptoms of diabetes. Administer insulin for type 1 diabetes,
and withhold KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) and administer anti-hyperglycemics
in patients with severe hyperglycemia.

Immune-mediated nephritis occurred in patients receiving KEYTRUDA.
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.

Other clinically important immune-mediated adverse reactions can occur.
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% of 550 patients: rash, vasculitis, hemolytic
anemia, serum sickness, and myasthenia gravis.

Severe and life-threatening infusion-related reactions have been
reported in 3 (0.1%) of 2117 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

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 14% of 550
patients. Serious adverse reactions occurred in 38% of patients. The
most frequent serious adverse reactions reported in at least 2% of
patients were pleural effusion, pneumonia, dyspnea, pulmonary embolism,
and pneumonitis. The most common adverse reactions (reported in at least
20% of patients) were fatigue (44%), cough (29%), decreased appetite
(25%), and dyspnea (23%).

No formal pharmacokinetic drug interaction studies have been conducted
with KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab).

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
pediatric patients.

Our Focus on Cancer

Our goal is to translate breakthrough science into innovative oncology
medicines to help people with cancer worldwide. At Merck Oncology,
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. For more information about our oncology clinical trials,

About Merck

For 125 years, Merck has been a global health care leader working to
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
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.
For more information, visit
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Forward-Looking Statement of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA

This news release of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA (the
“company”) includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of
the safe harbor provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation
Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based upon the current beliefs
and expectations of the company’s management and are subject to
significant risks and uncertainties. There can be no guarantees with
respect to pipeline products that the products will receive the
necessary regulatory approvals or that they will prove to be
commercially successful. If underlying assumptions prove inaccurate or
risks or uncertainties materialize, actual results may differ materially
from those set forth in the forward-looking statements.

Risks and uncertainties include but are not limited to, general industry
conditions and competition; general economic factors, including interest
rate and currency exchange rate fluctuations; the impact of
pharmaceutical industry regulation and health care legislation in the
United States and internationally; global trends toward health care cost
containment; technological advances, new products and patents attained
by competitors; challenges inherent in new product development,
including obtaining regulatory approval; the company’s ability to
accurately predict future market conditions; manufacturing difficulties
or delays; financial instability of international economies and
sovereign risk; dependence on the effectiveness of the company’s patents
and other protections for innovative products; and the exposure to
litigation, including patent litigation, and/or regulatory actions.

The company undertakes no obligation to publicly update any
forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information,
future events or otherwise. Additional factors that could cause results
to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking
statements can be found in the company’s 2015 Annual Report on Form 10-K
and the company’s other filings with the Securities and Exchange
Commission (SEC) available at the SEC’s Internet site (

Please see Prescribing Information for KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) at

Patient Information/Medication Guide for KEYTRUDA at

Pam Eisele, 267-305-3558
An Phan, 908-255-6325
Teri Loxam, 908-740-1986
Justin Holko, 908-740-1879

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