Combination of Keytruda and Yervoy does not improve cancer survival, MSD trial finds

pharmafile | February 2, 2021 | News story | Manufacturing and Production Cancer, MSD 

A new trial by Merck – known as MSD outside of North America – has found that their lung cancer treatment, Keytruda (pembrolizumab), does not increase overall survival rate when paired with the melanoma medicine Yervoy.

The Phase III KEYNOTE-598 trial found that, rather than improve the survival rate, the combination with Yervoy (ipilimumab) added toxicity compared with patients who only received Keytruda.

In the randomised, double-blind study of 568 patients, where half each received a different treatment, the median overall survival was 21.9 months for patients randomised to just Keytruda, compared with 21.4 months for patients on a combination of the two therapies.

The addition of Yervoy also increased the likelihood of the patients receiving serious side effects, with 76.2% experiencing adverse symptoms related to the treatment, as opposed to 68.3% of those on just Keytruda.

Dr. Roy Baynes, Senior Vice President and Head of Global Development at MSD, said: “As a leader in lung cancer, we are pursuing a broad clinical program to better understand the potential of Keytruda-based combinations to improve survival outcomes for patients with this devastating disease.

“KEYNOTE-598 is the first head-to-head study designed to answer the question of whether combining Keytruda with ipilimumab provided additional clinical benefits beyond treatment with Keytruda alone in certain patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer. The results are clear – the combination did not add clinical benefit but did add toxicity.”

Jack Goddard

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