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MSD’s Keytruda notches another FDA approval in Hodgkin lymphoma

Published on 15/03/17 at 09:24am

MSD, otherwise known as Merck in North America, continues to score indication successes with Keytruda, this time in Hodgkin lymphoma. The particular indication is within patients who are refractory to treatment or who have relapsed after three or more previous attempts at treatment.

The FDA go-ahead for treatment marks the first time that Keytruda has been approved within blood cancer and was granted via accelerated approval. The decision comes on the back of strong trial data from MSD’s KEYNOTE-087 trial, which found that, of patients taking Keytruda, at doses of 200mg every three weeks, 22% experienced complete remission rate and 47% had a partial remission rate. The median follow-up time was for 9.4 months and among the 145 patients the median duration of response 11.1 months.

“The results from KEYNOTE-087 showed that most patients with relapsed or refractory classical Hodgkin lymphoma responded to treatment with Keytruda, and 22 percent experienced complete remission,” said Dr. Roger M. Perlmutter, President, Merck Research Laboratories. “Today’s approval – the first for Keytruda in a hematologic malignancy – reinforces the hope that immunotherapy will prove useful in a wide variety of cancers.”

The results are particularly strong because in this indication of Hodgkin lymphoma, there are few other options for patients. To have close to a quarter of patients experiencing complete remission after 11 months then offers hope for patients while boosting the number of patients that Keytruda can be used to treat. MSD will be hoping that the positive signs in this trial carry over to further indications within blood cancer.

Ben Hargreaves

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