Merck's (MRK) KEYTRUDA in Combination With Chemotherapy Significantly Improved OS and PFS Compared With Chemotherapy in Locally Advanced or First-Line Metastatic Esophageal Cancer

August 19, 2020 6:58 AM

Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, today announced that the pivotal Phase 3 KEYNOTE-590 trial evaluating KEYTRUDA, Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy, in combination with chemotherapy (cisplatin plus 5-fluorouracil [5-FU]), met its primary endpoints of overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) for the first-line treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic esophageal cancer. Based on an interim analysis conducted by an independent Data Monitoring Committee, KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy demonstrated a statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in OS and PFS compared with chemotherapy (cisplatin plus 5-FU), the current standard of care, in the intention-to-treat (ITT) population. The study also met the key secondary endpoint of objective response rate (ORR), with significant improvements for KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy compared with chemotherapy alone. The safety profile of KEYTRUDA in this trial was consistent with that observed in previously reported studies. Results will be shared with global regulatory authorities and have been submitted for presentation at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Virtual Congress 2020.

“Esophageal cancer is a devastating malignancy with a high mortality rate and few treatment options in the first-line setting beyond chemotherapy,” said Dr. Roy Baynes, senior vice president and head of global clinical development, chief medical officer, Merck Research Laboratories. “In this pivotal study, KEYTRUDA plus chemotherapy resulted in superior overall survival compared with the current standard of care in the full study population and across all patient groups evaluated. These results build upon our research reinforcing the survival benefits of KEYTRUDA, and we look forward to engaging regulatory authorities as quickly as possible.”

KEYTRUDA is currently approved in the U.S. and China as monotherapy for the second-line treatment of patients with recurrent locally advanced or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus whose tumors express PD-L1 (Combined Positive Score [CPS] ≥10). Merck is continuing to study KEYTRUDA across multiple settings and stages of gastrointestinal cancer – including gastric, hepatobiliary, esophageal, pancreatic, colorectal and anal cancers – through its broad clinical program.

About KEYNOTE-590

KEYNOTE-590 is a randomized, double-blind, Phase 3 trial (ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03189719) evaluating KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy compared with placebo plus chemotherapy for the first-line treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic esophageal carcinoma (adenocarcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus or Siewert type 1 adenocarcinoma of the esophagogastric junction). The primary endpoints are OS and PFS. The secondary endpoints include ORR, duration of response and safety. The study enrolled 749 patients who were randomized to receive:

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