KEYTRUDA(R) (pembrolizumab): New Indication – 12/21/23

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Merck would like to inform you that the FDA has approved KEYTRUDA for the treatment of patients with resectable (tumors ≥4 cm or node positive) non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in combination with platinum-containing chemotherapy as neoadjuvant treatment, and then continued as a single agent as adjuvant treatment after surgery.

PD-L1 diagnostic testing is not required prior to initiating treatment with KEYTRUDA in these patients.

FDA = Food and Drug Administration; PD-L1 = programmed death ligand 1.

SELECTED SAFETY INFORMATION

Severe and Fatal Immune-Mediated Adverse Reactions

KEYTRUDA is a monoclonal antibody that belongs to a class of drugs that bind to either the programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1) or the programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1), blocking the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway, thereby removing inhibition of the immune response, potentially breaking peripheral tolerance and inducing immune-mediated adverse reactions. Immune-mediated adverse reactions, which may be severe or fatal, can occur in any organ system or tissue, can affect more than one body system simultaneously, and can occur at any time after starting treatment or after discontinuation of treatment. Important immune-mediated adverse reactions listed here may not include all possible severe and fatal immune-mediated adverse reactions.
Monitor patients closely for symptoms and signs that may be clinical manifestations of underlying immune-mediated adverse reactions. Early identification and management are essential to ensure safe use of anti–PD-1/PD-L1 treatments. Evaluate liver enzymes, creatinine, and thyroid function at baseline and periodically during treatment. In cases of suspected immune-mediated adverse reactions, initiate appropriate workup to exclude alternative etiologies, including infection. Institute medical management promptly, including specialty consultation as appropriate.
Withhold or permanently discontinue KEYTRUDA depending on severity of the immune-mediated adverse reaction. In general, if KEYTRUDA requires interruption or discontinuation, administer systemic corticosteroid therapy (1 to 2 mg/kg/day prednisone or equivalent) until improvement to Grade 1 or less. Upon improvement to Grade 1 or less, initiate corticosteroid taper and continue to taper over at least 1 month. Consider administration of other systemic immunosuppressants in patients whose adverse reactions are not controlled with corticosteroid therapy.

Selected Safety Information continued below.

KEYNOTE-671

For Patients With Resectable (Tumors ≥4 cm or Node Positive) NSCLC in Combination With Platinum-Containing Chemotherapy as Neoadjuvant Treatment, and Then Continued as a Single Agent as Adjuvant Treatment After Surgery

The efficacy of KEYTRUDA in combination with neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by surgery and continued adjuvant treatment with KEYTRUDA as a single agent was investigated in KEYNOTE-671, a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial conducted in 797 patients with previously untreated and resectable Stage II, IIIA, or IIIB (N2) NSCLC by AJCC 8th edition. Patients were enrolled regardless of tumor PD-L1 expression. Patients with active autoimmune disease that required systemic therapy within 2 years of treatment, a medical condition that required immunosuppression, or a history of interstitial lung disease or pneumonitis that required steroids were ineligible. Randomization was stratified by stage (II vs. III), tumor PD-L1 expression (TPS ≥50% or <50%), histology (squamous vs. nonsquamous), and geographic region (East Asia vs. non-East Asia).
Patients were randomized (1:1) to one of the following treatment arms:

Treatment Arm A: neoadjuvant KEYTRUDA 200 mg on Day 1 in combination with cisplatin 75 mg/m2 and either pemetrexed 500 mg/m2 on Day 1 or gemcitabine 1000 mg/m2 on Days 1 and 8 of each 21-day cycle for up to 4 cycles. Within 4-12 weeks following surgery, KEYTRUDA 200 mg was administered every 3 weeks for up to 13 cycles.
Treatment Arm B: neoadjuvant placebo on Day 1 in combination with cisplatin 75 mg/m2 and either pemetrexed 500 mg/m2 on Day 1 or gemcitabine 1000 mg/m2 on Days 1 and 8 of each 21-day cycle for up to 4 cycles. Within 4-12 weeks following surgery, placebo was administered every 3 weeks for up to 13 cycles.

All study medications were administered via intravenous infusion. Treatment with KEYTRUDA or placebo continued until completion of the treatment (17 cycles), disease progression that precluded definitive surgery, disease recurrence in the adjuvant phase, disease progression for those who did not undergo surgery or had incomplete resection and entered the adjuvant phase, or unacceptable toxicity. Assessment of tumor status was performed at baseline, Week 7, and Week 13 in the neoadjuvant phase and within 4 weeks prior to the start of the adjuvant phase. Following the start of the adjuvant phase, assessment of tumor status was performed every 16 weeks through the end of Year 3, and then every 6 months thereafter.
The trial was not designed to isolate the effect of KEYTRUDA in each phase (neoadjuvant or adjuvant) of treatment.
The major efficacy outcome measures were OS and investigator-assessed event-free survival (EFS). Additional efficacy outcome measures were pathological complete response (pCR) rate and major pathological response (mPR) rate as assessed by blinded independent pathology review.
The study population characteristics were: median age of 64 years (range: 26 to 83); 45% age 65 or older and 7% age 75 or older; 71% male; 61% White, 31% Asian, 2% Black, 4% race not reported; 9% Hispanic or Latino; 63% ECOG PS of 0 and 37% ECOG PS of 1. Thirty percent had Stage II and 70% had Stage III disease; 33% had TPS ≥50% and 67% had TPS <50%; 43% had tumors with squamous histology and 57% had tumors with nonsquamous histology; 31% were from the East Asian region.
Eighty-one percent of patients in the KEYTRUDA in combination with platinum-containing chemotherapy arm received definitive surgery compared to 76% of patients in the placebo in combination with platinum-containing chemotherapy arm.
The trial demonstrated statistically significant improvements in OS and EFS for patients randomized to KEYTRUDA in combination with platinum-containing chemotherapy followed by KEYTRUDA as a single agent compared with patients randomized to placebo in combination with platinum-containing chemotherapy followed by placebo alone.
The table below summarizes the efficacy results for KEYNOTE-671.

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*Based on Kaplan-Meier estimates

Based on Cox regression model with treatment as a covariate stratified by stage, tumor PD-L1 expression, histology, and

geographic region

Based on stratified log-rank test

§Compared to a two-sided p-Value boundary of 0.0109

Compared to a two-sided p-Value boundary of 0.0092

The trial demonstrated a statistically significant difference in pCR rate (18.1% vs. 4.0%; p<0.0001) and mPR rate (30.2% vs. 11.0%; p<0.0001).

AJCC = American Joint Committee on Cancer; CI = confidence interval; ECOG PS = Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status; NR = not reached; OS = overall survival; TPS = tumor proportion score.

Recommended Dosage for Patients With Resectable (Tumors ≥4 cm or Node Positive) NSCLC in Combination With Platinum-Containing Chemotherapy as Neoadjuvant Treatment, and Then Continued as a Single Agent as Adjuvant Treatment After Surgery

The recommended dosage of KEYTRUDA in adult patients with resectable (tumors ≥4 cm or node positive) NSCLC is 200 mg administered after dilution as an intravenous (IV) infusion over 30 minutes every 3 weeks or 400 mg administered after dilution as an IV infusion over 30 minutes every 6 weeks as neoadjuvant treatment in combination with chemotherapy for 12 weeks or until disease progression that precludes definitive surgery or unacceptable toxicity, followed by adjuvant treatment with KEYTRUDA as a single agent after surgery for 39 weeks or until disease recurrence or unacceptable toxicity.

Administer KEYTRUDA prior to chemotherapy when given on the same day.

SELECTED SAFETY INFORMATION (continued)

Severe and Fatal Immune-Mediated Adverse Reactions (continued)

Immune-Mediated Pneumonitis

KEYTRUDA can cause immune-mediated pneumonitis. The incidence is higher in patients who have received prior thoracic radiation. Immune-mediated pneumonitis occurred in 3.4% (94/2799) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including fatal (0.1%), Grade 4 (0.3%), Grade 3 (0.9%), and Grade 2 (1.3%) reactions. Systemic corticosteroids were required in 67% (63/94) of patients. Pneumonitis led to permanent discontinuation of KEYTRUDA in 1.3% (36) and withholding in 0.9% (26) of patients. All patients who were withheld reinitiated KEYTRUDA after symptom improvement; of these, 23% had recurrence. Pneumonitis resolved in 59% of the 94 patients.

Immune-Mediated Colitis

KEYTRUDA can cause immune-mediated colitis, which may present with diarrhea. Cytomegalovirus infection/reactivation has been reported in patients with corticosteroid-refractory immune-mediated colitis. In cases of corticosteroid-refractory colitis, consider repeating infectious workup to exclude alternative etiologies. Immune-mediated colitis occurred in 1.7% (48/2799) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 4 (<0.1%), Grade 3 (1.1%), and Grade 2 (0.4%) reactions. Systemic corticosteroids were required in 69% (33/48); additional immunosuppressant therapy was required in 4.2% of patients. Colitis led to permanent discontinuation of KEYTRUDA in 0.5% (15) and withholding in 0.5% (13) of patients. All patients who were withheld reinitiated KEYTRUDA after symptom improvement; of these, 23% had recurrence. Colitis resolved in 85% of the 48 patients.

Hepatotoxicity and Immune-Mediated Hepatitis

KEYTRUDA as a Single Agent

KEYTRUDA can cause immune-mediated hepatitis. Immune-mediated hepatitis occurred in 0.7% (19/2799) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 4 (<0.1%), Grade 3 (0.4%), and Grade 2 (0.1%) reactions. Systemic corticosteroids were required in 68% (13/19) of patients; additional immunosuppressant therapy was required in 11% of patients. Hepatitis led to permanent discontinuation of KEYTRUDA in 0.2% (6) and withholding in 0.3% (9) of patients. All patients who were withheld reinitiated KEYTRUDA after symptom improvement; of these, none had recurrence. Hepatitis resolved in 79% of the 19 patients.

Immune-Mediated Endocrinopathies

Adrenal Insufficiency

KEYTRUDA can cause primary or secondary adrenal insufficiency. For Grade 2 or higher, initiate symptomatic treatment, including hormone replacement as clinically indicated. Withhold KEYTRUDA depending on severity. Adrenal insufficiency occurred in 0.8% (22/2799) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 4 (<0.1%), Grade 3 (0.3%), and Grade 2 (0.3%) reactions. Systemic corticosteroids were required in 77% (17/22) of patients; of these, the majority remained on systemic corticosteroids. Adrenal insufficiency led to permanent discontinuation of KEYTRUDA in <0.1% (1) and withholding in 0.3% (8) of patients. All patients who were withheld reinitiated KEYTRUDA after symptom improvement.

Hypophysitis

KEYTRUDA can cause immune-mediated hypophysitis. Hypophysitis can present with acute symptoms associated with mass effect such as headache, photophobia, or visual field defects. Hypophysitis can cause hypopituitarism. Initiate hormone replacement as indicated. Withhold or permanently discontinue KEYTRUDA depending on severity. Hypophysitis occurred in 0.6% (17/2799) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 4 (<0.1%), Grade 3 (0.3%), and Grade 2 (0.2%) reactions. Systemic corticosteroids were required in 94% (16/17) of patients; of these, the majority remained on systemic corticosteroids. Hypophysitis led to permanent discontinuation of KEYTRUDA in 0.1% (4) and withholding in 0.3% (7) of patients. All patients who were withheld reinitiated KEYTRUDA after symptom improvement.

Thyroid Disorders

KEYTRUDA can cause immune-mediated thyroid disorders. Thyroiditis can present with or without endocrinopathy. Hypothyroidism can follow hyperthyroidism. Initiate hormone replacement for hypothyroidism or institute medical management of hyperthyroidism as clinically indicated. Withhold or permanently discontinue KEYTRUDA depending on severity. Thyroiditis occurred in 0.6% (16/2799) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 2 (0.3%). None discontinued, but KEYTRUDA was withheld in <0.1% (1) of patients.
Hyperthyroidism occurred in 3.4% (96/2799) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 3 (0.1%) and Grade 2 (0.8%). It led to permanent discontinuation of KEYTRUDA in <0.1% (2) and withholding in 0.3% (7) of patients. All patients who were withheld reinitiated KEYTRUDA after symptom improvement. Hypothyroidism occurred in 8% (237/2799) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 3 (0.1%) and Grade 2 (6.2%). It led to permanent discontinuation of KEYTRUDA in <0.1% (1) and withholding in 0.5% (14) of patients. All patients who were withheld reinitiated KEYTRUDA after symptom improvement. The majority of patients with hypothyroidism required long-term thyroid hormone replacement.

Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus (DM), Which Can Present With Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Monitor patients for hyperglycemia or other signs and symptoms of diabetes. Initiate treatment with insulin as clinically indicated. Withhold KEYTRUDA depending on severity. Type 1 DM occurred in 0.2% (6/2799) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA. It led to permanent discontinuation in <0.1% (1) and withholding of KEYTRUDA in <0.1% (1) of patients. All patients who were withheld reinitiated KEYTRUDA after symptom improvement.

Immune-Mediated Nephritis With Renal Dysfunction

KEYTRUDA can cause immune-mediated nephritis. Immune-mediated nephritis occurred in 0.3% (9/2799) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 4 (<0.1%), Grade 3 (0.1%), and Grade 2 (0.1%) reactions. Systemic corticosteroids were required in 89% (8/9) of patients. Nephritis led to permanent discontinuation of KEYTRUDA in 0.1% (3) and withholding in 0.1% (3) of patients. All patients who were withheld reinitiated KEYTRUDA after symptom improvement; of these, none had recurrence. Nephritis resolved in 56% of the 9 patients.

Immune-Mediated Dermatologic Adverse Reactions

KEYTRUDA can cause immune-mediated rash or dermatitis. Exfoliative dermatitis, including Stevens-Johnson syndrome, drug rash with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms, and toxic epidermal necrolysis, has occurred with anti–PD-1/PD-L1 treatments. Topical emollients and/or topical corticosteroids may be adequate to treat mild to moderate nonexfoliative rashes. Withhold or permanently discontinue KEYTRUDA depending on severity. Immune-mediated dermatologic adverse reactions occurred in 1.4% (38/2799) of patients receiving KEYTRUDA, including Grade 3 (1%) and Grade 2 (0.1%) reactions. Systemic corticosteroids were required in 40% (15/38) of patients. These reactions led to permanent discontinuation in 0.1% (2) and withholding of KEYTRUDA in 0.6% (16) of patients. All patients who were withheld reinitiated KEYTRUDA after symptom improvement; of these, 6% had recurrence. The reactions resolved in 79% of the 38 patients.

Other Immune-Mediated Adverse Reactions

The following clinically significant immune-mediated adverse reactions occurred at an incidence of <1% (unless otherwise noted) in patients who received KEYTRUDA or were reported with the use of other anti–PD-1/PD-L1 treatments. Severe or fatal cases have been reported for some of these adverse reactions. Cardiac/Vascular: Myocarditis, pericarditis, vasculitis; Nervous System: Meningitis, encephalitis, myelitis and demyelination, myasthenic syndrome/myasthenia gravis (including exacerbation), Guillain-Barré syndrome, nerve paresis, autoimmune neuropathy; Ocular: Uveitis, iritis and other ocular inflammatory toxicities can occur. Some cases can be associated with retinal detachment. Various grades of visual impairment, including blindness, can occur. If uveitis occurs in combination with other immune-mediated adverse reactions, consider a Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada-like syndrome, as this may require treatment with systemic steroids to reduce the risk of permanent vision loss; Gastrointestinal: Pancreatitis, to include increases in serum amylase and lipase levels, gastritis, duodenitis; Musculoskeletal and Connective Tissue: Myositis/polymyositis, rhabdomyolysis (and associated sequelae, including renal failure), arthritis (1.5%), polymyalgia rheumatica; Endocrine: Hypoparathyroidism; Hematologic/Immune: Hemolytic anemia, aplastic anemia, hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, systemic inflammatory response syndrome, histiocytic necrotizing lymphadenitis (Kikuchi lymphadenitis), sarcoidosis, immune thrombocytopenic purpura, solid organ transplant rejection.

Infusion-Related Reactions

KEYTRUDA can cause severe or life-threatening infusion-related reactions, including hypersensitivity and anaphylaxis, which have been reported in 0.2% of 2799 patients receiving KEYTRUDA. Monitor for signs and symptoms of infusion-related reactions. Interrupt or slow the rate of infusion for Grade 1 or Grade 2 reactions. For Grade 3 or Grade 4 reactions, stop infusion and permanently discontinue KEYTRUDA.

Complications of Allogeneic Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT)

Fatal and other serious complications can occur in patients who receive allogeneic HSCT before or after anti–PD-1/PD-L1 treatments. Transplant-related complications include hyperacute graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), acute and chronic GVHD, hepatic veno-occlusive disease after reduced intensity conditioning, and steroid-requiring febrile syndrome (without an identified infectious cause). These complications may occur despite intervening therapy between anti–PD-1/PD-L1 treatments and allogeneic HSCT. Follow patients closely for evidence of these complications and intervene promptly. Consider the benefit vs risks of using anti–PD-1/PD-L1 treatments prior to or after an allogeneic HSCT.

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 an anti–PD-1/PD-L1 treatment 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-671, adverse reactions occurring in patients with resectable NSCLC receiving KEYTRUDA in combination with platinum-containing chemotherapy, given as neoadjuvant treatment and continued as single-agent adjuvant treatment, were generally similar to those occurring in patients in other clinical trials across tumor types receiving KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy.
The most common adverse reactions (reported in ≥20%) in patients receiving KEYTRUDA in combination with chemotherapy were fatigue/asthenia, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, decreased appetite, rash, vomiting, cough, dyspnea, pyrexia, alopecia, peripheral neuropathy, mucosal inflammation, stomatitis, headache, weight loss, abdominal pain, arthralgia, myalgia, insomnia, and palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia.
In the neoadjuvant phase of KEYNOTE-671, when KEYTRUDA was administered in combination with platinum-containing chemotherapy as neoadjuvant treatment, serious adverse reactions occurred in 34% of 396 patients. The most frequent (≥2%) serious adverse reactions were pneumonia (4.8%), venous thromboembolism (3.3%), and anemia (2%). Fatal adverse reactions occurred in 1.3% of patients, including death due to unknown cause (0.8%), sepsis (0.3%), and immune-mediated lung disease (0.3%). Permanent discontinuation of any study drug due to an adverse reaction occurred in 18% of patients who received KEYTRUDA in combination with platinum-containing chemotherapy; the most frequent adverse reactions (≥1%) that led to permanent discontinuation of any study drug were acute kidney injury (1.8%), interstitial lung disease (1.8%), anemia (1.5%), neutropenia (1.5%), and pneumonia (1.3%).
Of the KEYTRUDA-treated patients who received neoadjuvant treatment, 6% of 396 patients did not receive surgery due to adverse reactions. The most frequent (≥1%) adverse reaction that led to cancellation of surgery in the KEYTRUDA arm was interstitial lung disease (1%).
In the adjuvant phase of KEYNOTE-671, when KEYTRUDA was administered as a single agent as adjuvant treatment, serious adverse reactions occurred in 14% of 290 patients. The most frequent serious adverse reaction was pneumonia (3.4%). One fatal adverse reaction of pulmonary hemorrhage occurred. Permanent discontinuation of KEYTRUDA due to an adverse reaction occurred in 12% of patients who received KEYTRUDA as a single agent, given as adjuvant treatment; the most frequent adverse reactions (≥1%) that led to permanent discontinuation of KEYTRUDA were diarrhea (1.7%), interstitial lung disease (1.4%), increased aspartate aminotransferase (1%), and musculoskeletal pain (1%).

Lactation

Because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in breastfed children, advise women not to breastfeed during treatment and for 4 months after the last dose.

Before prescribing KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab), please read the Prescribing Information. The Medication Guide also is available.

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