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.

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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.