Merck's Multi-Billion Cancer Drug Keytruda Aces Late-Stage Breast Cancer Study (UPDATED)

Zinger Key Points
  • Keytruda demonstrated statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in OS compared to pre-operative chemotherapy.
  • KEYNOTE 522 is the fourth study of a Keytruda-based regimen in an earlier stage of cancer to demonstrate an OS benefit.
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Editor’s Note: The title of the story is updated to correct the reference to ‘Breast’ cancer instead of ‘Lung’ cancer.

Tuesday, Merck & Co Inc MRK released topline data from hase 3 KEYNOTE-522 trial of Keytruda in high-risk early-stage triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC).

The study evaluated Keytruda in combination with chemotherapy as a pre-operative (neoadjuvant) treatment and then continuing as a single agent after surgery (adjuvant). 

The study met its overall survival (OS) endpoint. 

At a pre-specified interim analysis conducted by an independent Data Monitoring Committee, Keytruda demonstrated a statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in OS compared to pre-operative chemotherapy. 

Related: Merck Halts Skin Cancer Drug Trial On High Discontinuation Rate – A Setback in High-Risk Melanoma Treatment.

“This is a significant milestone, as it is the first time an immunotherapy-based regimen has demonstrated a statistically significant overall survival benefit compared to chemotherapy alone in patients with high-risk early-stage triple-negative breast cancer,” said Dr. Gursel Aktan, vice president, global clinical development, Merck Research Laboratories. 

KEYNOTE 522 is the fourth study of a Keytruda-based regimen in an earlier stage of cancer to demonstrate an OS benefit, in addition to KEYNOTE-A18 in cervical cancer, KEYNOTE-671 in non-small cell lung cancer, and KEYNOTE-564 in renal cell carcinoma.

Earlier this month, Merck’s Phase 3 KEYNOTE-B21 trial of Keytruda in combination with chemotherapy as adjuvant treatment, with or without radiotherapy, did not meet its primary endpoint of disease-free survival in newly diagnosed, high-risk endometrial cancer after surgery with curative intent.

Price Action: MRK shares are down 2.21% at $126.63 at the last check on Tuesday.

Photo via Company

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