Powerful new data for MSD’s bladder cancer drug stops trial early

pharmafile | November 16, 2016 | News story | Research and Development MSD, pembrolizumab 

MSD has released new data which reinforces the efficacy of its anti-PD-1 therapy pembrolizumab in patients with advanced urothelial (bladder) cancer who have previously been treated with platinum-containing chemotherapy after its performance prompted the early termination of its trial.

The 542-patient trial was designed to evaluate pembrolizumab as a monotherapy compared to investigator-choice chemotherapy (paclitaxel, docetaxel and vinflunine) as a treatment for metastatic or locally advanced, unresectable urothelial cancer that has recurred or progressed following platinum-based chemotherapy.

The data shows that the drug reduced risk of death by 27% compared to chemotherapy, with median overall survival at 10.3 months compared to 7.4 months for standard chemotherapy. Overall survival was also improved by 43% in patients with PD-L1 expression.

“The improved overall survival for patients receiving pembrolizumab in this trial are clinically significant and could impact how physicians consider treating patients with previously treated advanced urothelial cancer,” said Dr. Roger Dansey, senior vice president, oncology late-stage development, MSD Research Laboratories. “These data add to the growing body of evidence from our clinical development program for pembrolizumab in a range of cancers, including advanced urothelial cancer.”

Dr. Dean F. Bajorin, study investigator and medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center added: “There have been few advancements in the treatment of bladder cancer in the past several decades, with chemotherapy being the only option. These data demonstrate the potential for pembrolizumab to provide a meaningful improvement in overall survival for patients with advanced urothelial cancer who previously have received platinum-containing chemotherapy.”

Matt Fellows

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