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KEYTRUDA trial demonstrates effectiveness


10th May 2019. A new analysis of the KEYNOTE-189 trial was recently presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) meeting and showed KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) had a similar effect on lung cancer patients whose tumours had spread to the brain and liver, compared to those whose tumours hadn’t spread.1

The KEYNOTE-189 study evaluated KEYTRUDA in combination with platinum-based and pemetrexed (ALIMTA®) chemotherapies compared with the chemotherapy combination alone, for untreated patients with advanced non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

The retrospective evaluation of the study looked at the sub-groups of NSCLC patients with liver and/or brain metastases at the start of the trial.2 It showed that patients with NSCLC that had spread to these sites, who then received KEYTRUDA plus chemotherapy, had a median overall survival which was at least twice that of patients receiving chemotherapy alone; with 19.2 months versus 7.5 months for those with brain metastases and 12.6 months versus 6.6 months for those with liver metastases. At the time, the clinical trial had studied these patients for a median of 18.7 months.1

Merck Sharp & Dohme, NZ Director, Mr Smith says, “This analysis shows that patients still benefited from the combination of KEYTRUDA and chemotherapy as a first line treatment. New Zealand was the second country worldwide to register KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy for untreated advanced non-small cell lung cancer, however it is not yet funded by PHARAMC.3



“Despite successful trial results and lung cancer being the leading cause of cancer death in New Zealand; patients are only currently funded to receive chemotherapy.

“KEYTRUDA was funded for New Zealand melanoma patients in 2016;4 and we made our first lung cancer submission to PHARMAC more than two years ago. KEYTRUDA is now funded for lung cancer in 42 countries worldwide, including Romania, Greece and Lebanon. 3

“There is nothing to stop PHARMAC from funding KEYTRUDA tomorrow. We know these patients don’t have time to wait.”

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