Merck Announces Promising Results for Keytruda in Triple-Negative Breast Ca Patients

Addition of the checkpoint inhibitor increased complete response

Patients with high-risk, early-stage triple-negative breast cancer have a statistically significant increase in pathological complete response when receiving Keytruda (pembrolizumab) and chemotherapy versus chemotherapy alone.  Merck, manufacturer of Keytruda, announced the results at the European Society for Medical Oncology  2019 Congress this week.

Merck said the addition of Keytruda, a checkpoint inhibitor, increased response from 51.2% with neoadjuvant chemotherapy to 64.8% with the neoadjuvant combination with the pre-surgery patients.

The company noted that the improvement in patients when Keytruda was added to their treatment regimen was observed regardless of PD-L1 expression. In the other dual primary endpoint of event-free-survival, Merck said the Keytruda regimen reduced the risk of progression in the neoadjuvant phase and recurrence in the adjuvant phase by 37.7% at a median of 15.5 months.

Roger M. Perlmutter, president of Merck Research Laboratories, said the KEYNOTE-522 trial is the first to employ combined neoadjuvant and adjuvant treatment with Keytruda in high-risk breast cancer patients.

Keytruda plus chemotherapy had been granted breakthrough therapy designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the neoadjuvant treatment of patients with high-risk, early-stage triple-negative breast cancer.

Hayley Dinerman, executive director of the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation called the findings exciting.

Source: Businesswire, September 29