Health Canada Approves KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab) in Combination with Chemotherapy for the Treatment of Locally Recurrent Unresectable or Metastatic Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Whose Tumors Express PD-L1
Conditional Approval Based on Data from Phase 3 KEYNOTE-355 Trial; Introduces First Breast Cancer Indication for KEYTRUDA®
KIRKLAND, QC, Nov. 23, 2021 /CNW/ -Merck & Co.(NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, today announced that Health Canada has granted conditional approval for KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab), Merck's anti-PD-1 therapy, in combination with chemotherapy for the treatment of locally recurrent unresectable or metastatic triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) in adults whose tumors express PD-L1 (Combined Positive Score [CPS] ≥10) and who have not received prior chemotherapy for metastatic disease.1 This conditional approval is based on the results of the pivotal Phase 3 KEYNOTE-355 trial which demonstrated KEYTRUDA®'s ability to improve progression-free survival (PFS) in combination with chemotherapy (nab-paclitaxel, paclitaxel or gemcitabine/carboplatin), as compared to chemotherapy alone.2
"As a complex and challenging subtype of cancer to treat, this approval is a welcome development for Canadian patients with triple-negative breast cancer," said Dr. David Cescon, Clinician Scientist, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. "About 10-20% of breast cancers are triple-negative breast cancers. Historically, chemotherapy has been the main treatment for this type of breast cancer, and there has been great interest in finding other therapies to help improve patient outcomes. This news means that there will be more options available and thus represents an important advance in the treatment of triple negative-breast cancer."
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among Canadian women and the second leading cause of death from cancer in Canadian women.3 In 2021, over 27,000 Canadians were estimated to be diagnosed.3 TNBC is an aggressive subtype of breast cancer which lacks estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors and HER2 amplification, making it difficult to target therapeutically.4 While TNBC can have the same signs and symptoms as other common types of breast cancer,5 it differs from other types of invasive breast cancer in that it grows and spreads quickly, is more likely to have spread at the time it's found and has fewer treatment options compared to other types of invasive breast cancer. 6
"When we hear from people in the metastatic breast cancer community, they say they want more tools in the toolbox – more options to help them treat their disease. And while there have been some advances in targeted treatment in breast cancer, fewer of them have been intended for people with the triple-negative diagnosis," said MJ DeCoteau, Founder and Executive Director, Rethink Breast Cancer. "New treatment options have been anticipated by patients and physicians alike for some time."
"It can be devastating to receive a triple-negative breast cancer diagnosis," said Cathy Ammendolea, Chair of the Board, Canadian Breast Cancer Network. "It can be worrying for patients to learn about the aggressive nature of the disease and the limited treatment options available to them, but this news can bring some hope to patients and their families who are on this journey."
About KEYNOTE-355 Trial
Health Canada's approval is based on findings from the Phase 3 study KEYNOTE-355, a randomized, double blind, multicenter, placebo-controlled study, which enrolled 847 patients.7 The key eligibility criteria for this study were locally recurrent unresectable or metastatic TNBC, regardless of tumor PD-L1 expression, and which had not been previously treated with chemotherapy in the metastatic setting.8
The results of KEYNOTE-355 showed that KEYTRUDA® in combination with chemotherapy demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in progression free survival (PFS) compared to patients treated with placebo in combination with chemotherapy.9
"As the first indication in breast cancer for KEYTRUDA®, this approval reinforces our dedication to patients and our legacy in innovative oncology medicines," said Marwan Akar, President and Managing Director, Merck Canada. "We are so proud to expand on our commitment to discover, develop and provide innovative therapeutic options to those who need it most."
About Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
KEYTRUDA® was first approved in Canada in 2015 and currently has 20 indications in several disease areas, including advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC), bladder cancer, non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC), classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL), melanoma and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).12
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Please see the product monograph for KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) at: https://www.merck.ca/static/pdf/KEYTRUDA-PM_E.pdf.
SOURCE Merck Canada
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