Merck’s Keytruda Trial Demonstrates Survival Benefit for Patients With Head, Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Merck & Co. (MRK) said pre-market Friday new findings from the phase 3 Keynote-048 trial demonstrate superior overall survival outcomes from its drug Keytruda in combination with chemotherapy for patients with recurrent or metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.

According to the drug maker, a final analysis showed Keytruda along with chemotherapy reduced the risk of death by 40% in patients whose tumors expressed PD-L1 with Combined Positive Score (CPS) 20, demonstrating significantly longer overall survival, compared with the Extreme regimen, the current standard of care. For the CPS 1 population, Keytruda combined with chemotherapy reduced the risk of death by 35%, with significantly longer overall survival.

The new findings were presented at the 2019 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the pharmaceutical firm said.