combination treatment approved for patients with advanced endometrial carcinoma that is not microsatellite instability-high (msi-h) or mismatch repair deficient (dmmr) who have disease progression following prior systemic therapy and are not candidates for curative surgery or radiation
under new fda-initiated program, combination treatment is the first to receive simultaneous review decisions in the u.s., australia and canada
tokyo, and kenilworth, n.j., [september 18, 2019] – eisai (ceo: haruo naito) and merck & co., inc., kenilworth, n.j., u.s.a. (nyse: mrk), known as msd outside the united states and canada, today announced that the u.s. food and drug administration (fda) approved the combination of lenvima, the orally available kinase inhibitor discovered by eisai, plus keytruda, merck & co., inc., kenilworth, n.j., u.s.a.’s anti-pd-1 therapy, for the treatment of patients with advanced endometrial carcinoma that is not microsatellite instability-high (msi-h) or mismatch repair deficient (dmmr), who have disease progression following prior systemic therapy and are not candidates for curative surgery or radiation. this marks the first u.s. approval for the combination of lenvima plus keytruda and the first time an anti-pd-1 therapy is approved in combination with a kinase inhibitor for advanced endometrial carcinoma in the u.s. following submission on june 17, this is an accelerated approval reviewed under the fda’s real-time oncology review (rtor) pilot program, which aims to improve the efficiency of the review process for applications to ensure that treatments are available to patients as early as possible. rtor allows the fda to review much of the data earlier, before the applicant formally submits the complete application. this accelerated approval is based on tumor response rate and durability of response. continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trial. according to the fda, this review was conducted under project orbis, an initiative of the fda oncology center of excellence. project orbis provides a framework for concurrent submission and review of oncology drugs among its international partners. under this project, the fda, the australian therapeutic goods administration (tga) and health canada collaboratively reviewed applications for two oncology drugs, allowing for simultaneous decisions in all three countries.
the approval was based on data from study 111/keynote-146, a phase 2, multi-cohort, multi-center, open-label, single-arm trial that enrolled 108 patients with metastatic endometrial carcinoma that had progressed following at least one prior systemic therapy in any setting. in the 94 patients with tumors that were not msi-h or dmmr, the lenvima plus keytruda combination demonstrated an orr of 38.3% (95% ci, 29-49), with a complete response rate of 10.6% (n=10) and a partial response rate of 27.7% (n=26). in the patients who had a response as determined by independent review (n=36), at the time of data cutoff, the median dor was not reached (range, 1.2 to 33.1 months), and 69% of these patients experienced responses lasting six months or longer. the most common adverse reactions (≥20%) with the lenvima plus keytruda combination were fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, hypertension, diarrhea, decreased appetite, hypothyroidism, nausea, stomatitis, vomiting, decreased weight, abdominal pain, headache, constipation, urinary tract infection, dysphonia, hemorrhagic events, hypomagnesemia, palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia, dyspnea, cough and rash.
“when diagnosed early, endometrial carcinoma can have a good prognosis; however, for women whose cancer has progressed following prior systemic therapy, there are few fda-approved treatment options,” said dr. vicky makker, medical oncologist, memorial sloan kettering cancer center. “based on objective response rate and the duration of response, this approval of the lenvima plus keytruda combination will help address a significant unmet medical need for patients with advanced endometrial carcinoma that is not msi-h or dmmr, who have disease progression following prior systemic therapy and are not candidates for curative surgery or radiation.”
“today’s approval of the lenvima plus keytruda combination for advanced endometrial carcinoma that has progressed following prior systemic therapy brings the first approved combination treatment to women with this type of cancer whose tumors are not msi-h or dmmr and who are not candidates for curative surgery or radiation, and this demonstrates the potential of our collaboration with eisai,” said dr. jonathan cheng, vice president, oncology clinical research, merck & co., inc., kenilworth, n.j., u.s.a. research laboratories. “merck & co., inc., kenilworth, n.j., u.s.a. is committed to developing this combination through the leap (lenvatinib and pembrolizumab) clinical program, which is under active investigation.”
“at least 75% of endometrial cancer cases are not microsatellite instability-high or mismatch repair deficient, and these women have been in need of new treatment options,” said dr. takashi owa, vice president, chief medicine creation and chief discovery officer, oncology business group at eisai. “we are very pleased that the lenvima plus keytruda combination for patients with advanced endometrial carcinoma that is not msi-h or dmmr, who have disease progression following prior systemic therapy and are not candidates for curative surgery or radiation has been selected for fda’s rtor pilot program, launched last year, and has been approved approximately three months after the submission. we look forward to providing this combination therapy to women with certain types of advanced endometrial carcinoma.”
about the eisai and merck & co., inc., kenilworth, n.j., u.s.a. strategic collaboration
in march 2018, eisai and merck & co., inc., kenilworth, n.j., u.s.a., known as msd outside the united states and canada, through an affiliate, entered into a strategic collaboration for the worldwide co-development and co-commercialization of lenvima. under the agreement, the companies will jointly develop, manufacture and commercialize lenvima, both as monotherapy and in combination with merck & co., inc., kenilworth, n.j., u.s.a.’s anti-pd-1 therapy keytruda.
in addition to ongoing clinical studies evaluating the keytruda plus lenvima combination across several different tumor types, the companies will jointly initiate new clinical studies through the leap (lenvatinib and pembrolizumab) clinical program, which will evaluate the combination to support 11 potential indications in six types of cancer. the leap clinical program also includes a new basket trial targeting six additional cancer types.
the pivotal studies evaluating the combination therapy of lenvima plus keytruda in hepatocellular carcinoma (first-line), renal cell carcinoma (first-line), melanoma (first-line and second-line), non-squamous cell lung carcinoma (first-line [all-comer], first-line [pd-l1 positive] and second-line), endometrial carcinoma (first-line and second-line), and bladder carcinoma (first-line) are currently underway.
eisai’s focus on cancer
eisai focuses on the development of anticancer drugs, targeting the tumor microenvironment with experience and knowledge from halaven and lenvima and the driver gene mutation and aberrant splicing leveraging rna splicing platform as areas (ricchi) where real patient needs are still unmet, and where eisai can become a frontrunner in oncology area. eisai will discover innovative new drug with new target and mechanism of action from these ricchi, and aims for contribution to cure cancers.
eisai is a leading global research and development-based pharmaceutical company headquartered in japan, with approximately 10,000 employees worldwide. we define our corporate mission as “giving first thought to patients and their families and to increasing the benefits health care provides,” which we call our human health care(hhc) philosophy. we strive to realize our hhc philosophy by delivering innovative products in therapeutic areas with high unmet medical needs, including oncology and neurology. in the spirit of hhc, we take that commitment even further by applying our scientific expertise, clinical capabilities and patient insights to discover and develop innovative solutions that help address society’s toughest unmet needs, including neglected tropical diseases and the sustainable development goals.
for more information about eisai, please visit (for global), (for u.s.) or (for u.k.), and connect with us on twitter (. and ) and (for u.s.).
merck & co., inc., kenilworth, n.j., u.s.a.’s focus on cancer
our goal is to translate breakthrough science into innovative oncology medicines to help people with cancer worldwide. at merck & co., inc., kenilworth, n.j., u.s.a., the potential to bring new hope to people with cancer drives our purpose and supporting accessibility to our cancer medicines is our commitment. as part of our focus on cancer, merck & co., inc., kenilworth, n.j., u.s.a. is committed to exploring the potential of immuno-oncology with one of the largest development programs in the industry across more than 30 tumor types. we also continue to strengthen our portfolio through strategic acquisitions and are prioritizing the development of several promising oncology candidates with the potential to improve the treatment of advanced cancers. for more information about our oncology clinical trials, visit .
about merck & co., inc., kenilworth, n.j., u.s.a.
for more than a century, merck & co., inc., kenilworth, n.j., u.s.a., a leading global biopharmaceutical company known as msd outside of the united states and canada, has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases. through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. we also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. today, merck & co., inc., kenilworth, n.j., u.s.a. continues to be at the forefront of research to advance the prevention and treatment of diseases that threaten people and communities around the world – including cancer, cardio-metabolic diseases, emerging animal diseases, alzheimer’s disease and infectious diseases including hiv and ebola. for more information, visit and connect with us on , , , and .
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