FDA Grants Priority Review to Keytruda Combination Therapy for Metastatic Squamous Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

July 2, 2018
  • Application based on data from PH III KEYNOTE-407 trial
  • PDUFA target date set for 10/30/2018


Merck (NYSE:MRK) announced on 7/02/2018 that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accepted for review a supplemental Biologics License Application (sBLA) for KEYTRUDA, Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy, in combination with carboplatin-paclitaxel or nab-paclitaxel as a first-line treatment for metastatic squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), regardless of PD-L1 expression. This sBLA, which is seeking accelerated approval for this new indication, is based on data from the Phase 3 KEYNOTE-407 trial, which were recently presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2018 Annual Meeting. The FDA has granted Priority Review to this sBLA and set a Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA), or target action, date of Oct. 30, 2018.

“KEYTRUDA has already been established as an important treatment option for non-small cell lung cancer in the first-line setting, and with our broad development program in lung cancer, we are committed to improving survival for as many patients as we can,” said Dr. Roy Baynes, senior vice president and head of global clinical development, chief medical officer, Merck Research Laboratories. “We are pleased that our application for squamous cell carcinoma – a historically challenging-to-treat disease – is under priority review with the FDA.”

KEYTRUDA is an anti-PD-1 therapy that works by increasing the ability of the body’s immune system to help detect and fight tumor cells. KEYTRUDA is a humanized monoclonal antibody that blocks the interaction between PD-1 and its ligands, PD-L1 and PD-L2, thereby activating T lymphocytes which may affect both tumor cells and healthy cells.

Merck has the industry’s largest immuno-oncology clinical research program, which currently involves more than 750 trials studying KEYTRUDA across a wide variety of cancers and treatment settings. The KEYTRUDA clinical program seeks to understand the role of KEYTRUDA across cancers and the factors that may predict a patient’s likelihood of benefitting from treatment with KEYTRUDA, including exploring several different biomarkers.



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