FDA Grants Priority Review to Merck’s Supplemental Biologics License Application for KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) for the First-Line Treatment of Patients with Recurrent or Metastatic Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC)

Filing Includes Use of KEYTRUDA in the First-Line Setting as
Monotherapy or in Combination with Chemotherapy

Application Based on Overall Survival Data from Pivotal Phase 3
KEYNOTE-048 Trial

KENILWORTH, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–lt;a href=”https://twitter.com/search?q=%24MRK&src=ctag” target=”_blank”gt;$MRKlt;/agt; lt;a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/MRK?src=hash” target=”_blank”gt;#MRKlt;/agt;–Merck (NYSE:MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada,
today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has
accepted a new supplemental Biologics License Application (sBLA) for
KEYTRUDA, Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy, as monotherapy or in combination
with platinum and 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) chemotherapy for the first-line
treatment of patients with recurrent or metastatic head and neck
squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). This sBLA is based in part on data from
the pivotal Phase 3 KEYNOTE-048 trial where KEYTRUDA demonstrated a
significant improvement in overall survival compared with the standard
of care, as monotherapy in patients whose tumors expressed PD-L1
with CPS≥20 and CPS≥1 and in combination with chemotherapy in the total
patient population. These data were presented at the European Society
for Medical Oncology 2018 Congress. The FDA has granted Priority Review
to this sBLA and set a Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA), or target
action, date of June 10, 2019.

Head and neck cancer remains a challenging and devastating disease, and
newly diagnosed patients are in need of improved treatment options,”
said Dr. Jonathan Cheng, vice president, clinical research, Merck
Research Laboratories. “Merck continues to make meaningful advances in
the treatment of head and neck cancer, and we look forward to working
with the FDA to bring these important new options to patients in the
first-line setting.”

KEYNOTE-048 also serves as the confirmatory trial for KEYNOTE-012, a
Phase 1b study which supported the previous accelerated approval for
KEYTRUDA as monotherapy for the treatment of patients with recurrent or
metastatic HNSCC with disease progression on or after
platinum-containing chemotherapy.

Merck currently has the largest immuno-oncology clinical development
program in HNSCC and is continuing to advance multiple
registration-enabling studies investigating KEYTRUDA as monotherapy and
in combination with other cancer treatments—including KEYNOTE-412,
KEYNOTE-689 and KEYNOTE-122.

KEYNOTE-048 Study Design

KEYNOTE-048, a randomized, open-label Phase 3 trial (ClinicalTrials.gov,
NCT02358031), evaluated KEYTRUDA monotherapy or KEYTRUDA combination,
compared with the EXTREME regimen, as first-line treatment in 882
patients with recurrent or metastatic HSNCC. The dual primary endpoints
were OS and PFS. The secondary endpoints were PFS (at 6 months and 12
months), objective response rate (ORR) and time to deterioration in
Quality of Life Global Health Status/Quality of Life Scales of the
European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC)
Quality of Life Questionnaire and Safety. Duration of response (DOR) was
evaluated as part of a pre-specified exploratory analysis. The primary
and secondary endpoints, as well as exploratory DOR analysis, were
evaluated in patients whose tumors expressed PD-L1 with CPS ≥20 and CPS
≥1, and in the total population, regardless of PD-L1 expression, based
on a fixed sequential testing strategy. At the time of the analysis, the
median follow-up was 11.7 months for KEYTRUDA monotherapy, 13.0 months
for KEYTRUDA combination and 10.7 months for the EXTREME regimen,
respectively.

About Head and Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancer describes a number of different tumors that develop
in or around the throat, larynx, nose, sinuses and mouth. Most head and
neck cancers are squamous cell carcinomas that begin in the flat,
squamous cells that make up the thin surface layer of the structures in
the head and neck. The leading modifiable risk factors for head and neck
cancer include tobacco and heavy alcohol use, and other risk factors
include infection with certain types of HPV, also called human
papillomaviruses. In the U.S., it is estimated that there will be more
than 65,000 new cases of head and neck cancer diagnosed in 2019.

About KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Injection,
100mg

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. KEYTRUDA
is a humanized monoclonal antibody that blocks the interaction between
PD-1 and its ligands, PD-L1 and PD-L2, thereby activating T lymphocytes
which may affect both tumor cells and healthy cells.

Merck has the industry’s largest immuno-oncology clinical research
program. There are currently more than 900 trials studying KEYTRUDA
across a wide variety of cancers and treatment settings. The KEYTRUDA
clinical program seeks to understand the role of KEYTRUDA across cancers
and the factors that may predict a patient’s likelihood of benefitting
from treatment with KEYTRUDA, including exploring several different
biomarkers.

KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Indications and
Dosing

Melanoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with unresectable or
metastatic melanoma at a fixed dose of 200 mg every three weeks until
disease progression or unacceptable toxicity.

Lung Cancer

KEYTRUDA, in combination with pemetrexed and platinum chemotherapy, is
indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with metastatic
nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), with no EGFR or ALK
genomic tumor aberrations.

KEYTRUDA, in combination with carboplatin and either paclitaxel or
nab-paclitaxel, is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients
with metastatic squamous NSCLC.

KEYTRUDA, as a single agent, is indicated for the first-line treatment
of patients with metastatic NSCLC whose tumors have high PD-L1
expression [tumor proportion score (TPS) ≥50%] as determined by an
FDA-approved test, with no EGFR or ALK genomic tumor aberrations.

KEYTRUDA, as a single agent, is indicated for the treatment of patients
with metastatic NSCLC whose tumors express PD-L1 (TPS ≥1%) as determined
by an FDA-approved test, with disease progression on or after
platinum-containing chemotherapy. Patients with EGFR or ALK genomic
tumor aberrations should have disease progression on FDA-approved
therapy for these aberrations prior to receiving KEYTRUDA.

In metastatic NSCLC, KEYTRUDA is administered at a fixed dose of 200 mg
every three weeks until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity, or
up to 24 months in patients without disease progression.

When administering KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy, KEYTRUDA
should be administered prior to chemotherapy when given on the same day.
See also the Prescribing Information for the chemotherapy agents
administered in combination with KEYTRUDA, as appropriate.

Head and Neck Cancer

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with recurrent or
metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) with disease
progression on or after platinum-containing chemotherapy. This
indication is approved under accelerated approval 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 trials. In HNSCC, KEYTRUDA is
administered at a fixed dose of 200 mg every three weeks until disease
progression, unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients
without disease progression.

Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients
with refractory classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL), or who have relapsed
after 3 or more prior lines of therapy. This indication is approved
under accelerated approval 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 trials. In adults with cHL, KEYTRUDA is administered at a
fixed dose of 200 mg every three weeks until disease progression or
unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease
progression. In pediatric patients with cHL, KEYTRUDA is administered at
a dose of 2 mg/kg (up to a maximum of 200 mg) every three weeks until
disease progression or unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in
patients without disease progression.

Primary Mediastinal Large B-Cell Lymphoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients
with refractory primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma (PMBCL), or
who have relapsed after 2 or more prior lines of therapy. This
indication is approved under accelerated approval 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 confirmatory trials. KEYTRUDA is not recommended for
the treatment of patients with PMBCL who require urgent cytoreductive
therapy.

In adults with PMBCL, KEYTRUDA is administered at a fixed dose of 200 mg
every three weeks until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity, or
up to 24 months in patients without disease progression. In pediatric
patients with PMBCL, KEYTRUDA is administered at a dose of 2 mg/kg (up
to a maximum of 200 mg) every three weeks until disease progression or
unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease
progression.

Urothelial Carcinoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with locally
advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma (mUC) who are not eligible
for cisplatin-containing chemotherapy and whose tumors express PD-L1
[combined positive score (CPS) ≥10] as determined by an FDA-approved
test, or in patients who are not eligible for any platinum-containing
chemotherapy regardless of PD-L1 status. This indication is approved
under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and duration of
response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon
verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory
trials.

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with locally
advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma (mUC) who have disease
progression during or following platinum-containing chemotherapy or
within 12 months of neoadjuvant or adjuvant treatment with
platinum-containing chemotherapy.

In locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma, KEYTRUDA is
administered at a fixed dose of 200 mg every three weeks until disease
progression or unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients
without disease progression.

Microsatellite Instability-High (MSI-H) Cancer

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients
with unresectable or metastatic microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H)
or mismatch repair deficient (dMMR)

  • solid tumors that have progressed following prior treatment and who
    have no satisfactory alternative treatment options, or
  • colorectal cancer that has progressed following treatment with
    fluoropyrimidine, oxaliplatin, and irinotecan.

This indication is approved under accelerated approval 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 trials. The safety and
effectiveness of KEYTRUDA in pediatric patients with MSI-H central
nervous system cancers have not been established.

In adult patients with MSI-H cancer, KEYTRUDA is administered at a fixed
dose of 200 mg every three weeks until disease progression, unacceptable
toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression. In
children with MSI-H cancer, KEYTRUDA is administered at a dose of 2
mg/kg (up to a maximum of 200 mg) every three weeks until disease
progression or unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients
without disease progression.

Gastric Cancer

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with recurrent
locally advanced or metastatic gastric or gastroesophageal junction
(GEJ) adenocarcinoma whose tumors express PD-L1 [combined positive score
(CPS) ≥1] as determined by an FDA-approved test, with disease
progression on or after two or more prior lines of therapy including
fluoropyrimidine- and platinum-containing chemotherapy and if
appropriate, HER2/neu-targeted therapy. This indication is approved
under accelerated approval 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 trials. The recommended dose of KEYTRUDA is a fixed dose of
200 mg every three weeks until disease progression, unacceptable
toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease progression.

Cervical Cancer

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with recurrent or
metastatic cervical cancer with disease progression on or after
chemotherapy whose tumors express PD-L1 (CPS ≥1) as determined by an
FDA-approved test. This indication is approved under accelerated
approval 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
trials. The recommended dose of KEYTRUDA is a fixed dose of 200 mg every
three weeks until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity, or up to
24 months in patients without disease progression.

Hepatocellular Carcinoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with hepatocellular
carcinoma (HCC) who have been previously treated with sorafenib. This
indication is approved under accelerated approval 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 trials. The recommended dose of
KEYTRUDA is a fixed dose of 200 mg every three weeks until disease
progression, unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients
without disease progression.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients
with recurrent locally advanced or metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma.
This indication is approved under accelerated approval 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 trials. The recommended dose of
KEYTRUDA in adults is 200 mg administered as an intravenous infusion
over 30 minutes every three weeks until disease progression,
unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease
progression. The recommended dose of KEYTRUDA in pediatric patients is 2
mg/kg (up to a maximum of 200 mg), administered as an intravenous
infusion over 30 minutes every three weeks until disease progression or
unacceptable toxicity, or up to 24 months in patients without disease
progression.

Selected Important Safety Information for KEYTRUDA

Immune-Mediated Pneumonitis

KEYTRUDA can cause immune-mediated pneumonitis, including fatal cases.
Pneumonitis occurred in 3.4% (94/2799) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA,
including Grade 1 (0.8%), 2 (1.3%), 3 (0.9%), 4 (0.3%), and 5 (0.1%),
and occurred more frequently in patients with a history of prior
thoracic radiation (6.9%) compared to those without (2.9%). Monitor
patients for signs and symptoms of pneumonitis. Evaluate suspected
pneumonitis with radiographic imaging. Administer corticosteroids for
Grade 2 or greater pneumonitis. Withhold KEYTRUDA for Grade 2;
permanently discontinue KEYTRUDA for Grade 3 or 4 or recurrent Grade 2
pneumonitis.

Immune-Mediated Colitis

KEYTRUDA can cause immune-mediated colitis. Colitis occurred in 1.7%
(48/2799) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 2 (0.4%), 3
(1.1%), and 4 (<0.1%). Monitor patients for signs and symptoms of colitis. Administer corticosteroids for Grade 2 or greater colitis. Withhold KEYTRUDA for Grade 2 or 3; permanently discontinue KEYTRUDA for Grade 4 colitis.

Immune-Mediated Hepatitis

KEYTRUDA can cause immune-mediated hepatitis. Hepatitis occurred in 0.7%
(19/2799) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 2 (0.1%), 3
(0.4%), and 4 (<0.1%). Monitor patients for changes in liver function. Administer corticosteroids for Grade 2 or greater hepatitis and, based on severity of liver enzyme elevations, withhold or discontinue KEYTRUDA.

Immune-Mediated Endocrinopathies

KEYTRUDA can cause hypophysitis, thyroid disorders, and type 1 diabetes
mellitus. Hypophysitis occurred in 0.6% (17/2799) of patients, including
Grade 2 (0.2%), 3 (0.3%), and 4 (<0.1%). Hypothyroidism occurred in 8.5% (237/2799) of patients, including Grade 2 (6.2%) and 3 (0.1%). The incidence of new or worsening hypothyroidism was higher in patients with HNSCC, occurring in 15% (28/192) of patients. Hyperthyroidism occurred in 3.4% (96/2799) of patients, including Grade 2 (0.8%) and 3 (0.1%), and thyroiditis occurred in 0.6% (16/2799) of patients, including Grade 2 (0.3%). Type 1 diabetes mellitus, including diabetic ketoacidosis, occurred in 0.2% (6/2799) of patients.

Monitor patients for signs and symptoms of hypophysitis (including
hypopituitarism and adrenal insufficiency), thyroid function (prior to
and periodically during treatment), and hyperglycemia. For hypophysitis,
administer corticosteroids and hormone replacement as clinically
indicated. Withhold KEYTRUDA for Grade 2 and withhold or discontinue for
Grade 3 or 4 hypophysitis. Administer hormone replacement for
hypothyroidism and manage hyperthyroidism with thionamides and
beta-blockers as appropriate. Withhold or discontinue KEYTRUDA for Grade
3 or 4 hyperthyroidism. Administer insulin for type 1 diabetes, and
withhold KEYTRUDA and administer antihyperglycemics in patients with
severe hyperglycemia.

Immune-Mediated Nephritis and Renal Dysfunction

KEYTRUDA can cause immune-mediated nephritis. Nephritis occurred in 0.3%
(9/2799) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 2 (0.1%), 3
(0.1%), and 4 (<0.1%) nephritis. Nephritis occurred in 1.7% (7/405) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA in combination with pemetrexed and platinum chemotherapy. Monitor patients for changes in renal function. Administer corticosteroids for Grade 2 or greater nephritis. Withhold KEYTRUDA for Grade 2; permanently discontinue for Grade 3 or 4 nephritis.

Immune-Mediated Skin Reactions

Immune-mediated rashes, including Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS), toxic
epidermal necrolysis (TEN) (some cases with fatal outcome), exfoliative
dermatitis, and bullous pemphigoid, can occur. Monitor patients for
suspected severe skin reactions and based on the severity of the adverse
reaction, withhold or permanently discontinue KEYTRUDA and administer
corticosteroids. For signs or symptoms of SJS or TEN, withhold KEYTRUDA
and refer the patient for specialized care for assessment and treatment.
If SJS or TEN is confirmed, permanently discontinue KEYTRUDA.

Other Immune-Mediated Adverse Reactions

Immune-mediated adverse reactions, which may be severe or fatal, can
occur in any organ system or tissue in patients receiving KEYTRUDA and
may also occur after discontinuation of treatment. For suspected
immune-mediated adverse reactions, ensure adequate evaluation to confirm
etiology or exclude other causes. Based on the severity of the adverse
reaction, withhold KEYTRUDA and administer corticosteroids. Upon
improvement to Grade 1 or less, initiate corticosteroid taper and
continue to taper over at least 1 month. Based on limited data from
clinical studies in patients whose immune-related adverse reactions
could not be controlled with corticosteroid use, administration of other
systemic immunosuppressants can be considered. Resume KEYTRUDA when the
adverse reaction remains at Grade 1 or less following corticosteroid
taper. Permanently discontinue KEYTRUDA for any Grade 3 immune-mediated
adverse reaction that recurs and for any life-threatening
immune-mediated adverse reaction.

The following clinically significant immune-mediated adverse reactions
occurred in less than 1% (unless otherwise indicated) of 2799 patients:
arthritis (1.5%), uveitis, myositis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, myasthenia
gravis, vasculitis, pancreatitis, hemolytic anemia, sarcoidosis, and
encephalitis. In addition, myelitis and myocarditis were reported in
other clinical trials and postmarketing use.

Treatment with KEYTRUDA may increase the risk of rejection in solid
organ transplant recipients. Consider the benefit of treatment vs the
risk of possible organ rejection in these patients.

Infusion-Related Reactions

KEYTRUDA can cause severe or life-threatening infusion-related
reactions, including hypersensitivity and anaphylaxis, which have been
reported in 0.2% (6/2799) of patients. Monitor patients for signs and
symptoms of infusion-related reactions. For Grade 3 or 4 reactions, stop
infusion and permanently discontinue KEYTRUDA.

Complications of Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation
(HSCT)

Immune-mediated complications, including fatal events, occurred in
patients who underwent allogeneic HSCT after treatment with KEYTRUDA. Of
23 patients with cHL who proceeded to allogeneic HSCT after KEYTRUDA, 6
developed graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) (1 fatal case) and 2
developed severe hepatic veno-occlusive disease (VOD) after
reduced-intensity conditioning (1 fatal case). Cases of fatal hyperacute
GVHD after allogeneic HSCT have also been reported in patients with
lymphoma who received a PD-1 receptor–blocking antibody before
transplantation. Follow patients closely for early evidence of
transplant-related complications such as hyperacute graft-versus-host
disease (GVHD), Grade 3 to 4 acute GVHD, steroid-requiring febrile
syndrome, hepatic veno-occlusive disease (VOD), and other
immune-mediated adverse reactions.

In patients with a history of allogeneic HSCT, acute GVHD (including
fatal GVHD) has been reported after treatment with KEYTRUDA. Patients
who experienced GVHD after their transplant procedure may be at
increased risk for GVHD after KEYTRUDA. Consider the benefit of KEYTRUDA
vs the risk of GVHD in these patients.

Increased Mortality in Patients With Multiple Myeloma

In trials in patients with multiple myeloma, the addition of KEYTRUDA to
a thalidomide analogue plus dexamethasone resulted in increased
mortality. Treatment of these patients with a PD-1 or PD-L1 blocking
antibody in this combination is not recommended outside of controlled
trials.

Embryofetal Toxicity

Based on its mechanism of action, KEYTRUDA can cause fetal harm when
administered to a pregnant woman. Advise women of this potential risk.
In females of reproductive potential, verify pregnancy status prior to
initiating KEYTRUDA and advise them to use effective contraception
during treatment and for 4 months after the last dose.

Adverse Reactions

In KEYNOTE-006, KEYTRUDA was discontinued due to adverse reactions in 9%
of 555 patients with advanced melanoma; adverse reactions leading to
permanent discontinuation in more than one patient were colitis (1.4%),
autoimmune hepatitis (0.7%), allergic reaction (0.4%), polyneuropathy
(0.4%), and cardiac failure (0.4%). The most common adverse reactions
(≥20%) with KEYTRUDA were fatigue (28%), diarrhea (26%), rash (24%), and
nausea (21%).

In KEYNOTE-189, when KEYTRUDA was administered with pemetrexed and
platinum chemotherapy in metastatic nonsquamous NSCLC, KEYTRUDA was
discontinued due to adverse reactions in 20% of 405 patients.

Contacts

Media :
Pamela Eisele
(267) 305-3558
Ayn Wisler
(908)
740-5590

Investor:
Teri Loxam
(908) 740-1986
Michael DeCarbo
908-740-1807

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