Pembrolizumab Combinations Found Safe, Effective in Non-Small Call Lung Cancer


Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) has demonstrated promising activity when used in combination with chemotherapy or quavonlimab in select patients with nonsquamous non–small cell lung cancer.

Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) has demonstrated promising activity when used in combination with chemotherapy or quavonlimab (MK-1308), according to long-term results from cohort G of the KEYNOTE-021 (NCT02039674) trial in select patients with nonsquamous non—small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and updated data from a phase 1/2 trial (NCT03179436) in patients with advanced NSCLC, respectively.

Results from cohort G of KEYNOTE-021 presented during the IASLC 2020 North America Conference on Lung Cancer showed that when pembrolizumab was combined with chemotherapy in patients with advanced nonsquamous NSCLC without EGFR or ALK aberrations, it resulted to a significant improvement in objective response rate (ORR) versus pemetrexed and platinum chemotherapy alone, at 58% versus 33%, respectively. The combination also led to an improvement in progression-free survival (PFS; HR, 0.54; 95% CI, 0.35-0.83), as well as a sustained long-term survival benefit (HR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.45-1.12) compared with chemotherapy alone.

Additionally, updated follow-up data from a phase 1/2 trial showed that frontline pembrolizumab in combination with quavonlimab demonstrated promising antitumor activity with a satisfactory safety profile in patients with advanced NSCLC.

“Over the past 5 years, [pembrolizumab] has become foundational in the treatment of metastatic lung cancer,” said Vicki Goodman, MD, vice president of oncology clinical research at Merck Research Laboratories.1 “The long-term data from KEYNOTE-021 (cohort G) reinforce the use of [pembrolizumab] in combination with chemotherapy in certain [patients with] advanced lung cancer, while data from our oncology pipeline reflect our commitment to exploring a number of new combinations with [pembrolizumab] that we believe could have a meaningful impact for more [patients with] lung cancer.”

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