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FDA approves Keytruda to treat high-risk early-stage triple-negative breast cancer – Merck Inc.

FDA approves Keytruda to treat high-risk early-stage triple-negative breast cancer – Merck Inc.

Merck Inc. announced that the FDA has approved Keytruda, Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy, for the treatment of patients with high-risk early-stage triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) in combination with chemotherapy as neoadjuvant treatment and then continued as a single agent as adjuvant treatment after surgery, based on the Phase III KEYNOTE-522 trial. TNBC is an aggressive type of breast cancer with an increased risk for disease recurrence.

KEYNOTE-522 showed that Keytruda in combination with chemotherapy (carboplatin and paclitaxel, followed by doxorubicin or epirubicin and cyclophosphamide) before surgery and continued as a single agent after surgery significantly prolonged event-free survival (EFS) versus the same neoadjuvant chemotherapy regimens alone in patients with previously untreated stage II or stage III TNBC – there was a 37% reduction in the risk of disease progression that precluded definitive surgery, a local/distant recurrence, a second primary cancer, or death from any cause (HR=0.63 [95% CI, 0.48-0.82]; p=0.00031). With this approval, Keytruda is now approved in the U.S. for 30 indications.

“Even when TNBC is diagnosed early, 30-40% of patients will suffer cancer recurrence after standard neoadjuvant chemotherapy and surgery,” said Dr. Joyce O’Shaughnessy, chair of Breast Cancer Research, Baylor University Medical Center, Texas Oncology, U.S. Oncology, Dallas, Texas. “Therefore, there is a high unmet need for new treatment options. Today’s approval is very welcome news and has the potential to change the treatment paradigm by now including an immunotherapy as part of the regimen for patients with high-risk early-stage TNBC.”

Additionally, the FDA converted the accelerated approval of Keytruda in combination with chemotherapy for the treatment of patients with locally recurrent unresectable or metastatic TNBC whose tumors express PD-L1 (Combined Positive Score [CPS] ?10) as determined by an FDA-approved test to a full (regular) approval based on confirmatory data from KEYNOTE-522. This approval was originally granted in November 2020 based on results from the Phase III KEYNOTE-355 trial.

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