Merck & Co. (MRK), known as MSD outside the U.S. and Canada, announced Monday that the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has adopted a positive opinion recommending approval of KEYTRUDA, Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy, in combination with platinum and fluoropyrimidine-based chemotherapy for the first-line treatment of patients with locally advanced unresectable or metastatic carcinoma of the esophagus or human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) adenocarcinoma in adults whose tumors express PD-L1.
The positive CHMP opinion is based on results from the pivotal Phase 3 KEYNOTE-590 trial, in which KEYTRUDA plus 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and cisplatin demonstrated significant improvements in overall survival and progression-free survival compared with 5-FU and cisplatin alone in patients regardless of histology or PD-L1 expression status.
KEYTRUDA plus 5-FU and cisplatin reduced the risk of death by 27% and reduced the risk of disease progression or death by 35% versus 5-FU and cisplatin alone.
The CHMP’s recommendation will now be reviewed by the European Commission for marketing authorization in the European Union, and a final decision is expected in the second quarter of 2021.
Merck is studying KEYTRUDA across multiple settings and stages of gastrointestinal cancer – including esophageal, gastric, hepatobiliary, pancreatic, colorectal and anal cancers – through its broad clinical program.
Esophageal cancer begins in the inner layer (mucosa) of the esophagus and grows outward. Esophageal cancer is the eighth most commonly diagnosed cancer and the sixth leading cause of death from cancer worldwide.
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.
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