Merck & Co/MSD’s Keytruda has added first-line kidney cancer treatment to its ever-lengthening list of approved uses in the EU.
The latest approval, which was also granted by the US FDA earlier this year, covers the use of PD-1 inhibitor Keytruda alongside Pfizer’s targeted drug Inlyta (axitinib) in previously untreated patients with renal cell carcinoma (RCC) – the most common form of kidney cancer.
RCC is shaping up to be another lucrative new market for Keytruda, which is already approved for several different types of cancer and currently dominates the lung cancer market.
Keytruda has been given the nod by the European Commission in RCC on the strength of the phase 3 KEYNOTE-426 trial, which showed that the combination with Inlyta reduced the risk of death by 47% compared to Pfizer’s older targeted drug Sutent (sunitinib).
The new approval opens another front in Keytruda’s bid to displace the combination of BMS’ PD-1 inhibitor Opdivo (nivolumab) and CTLA4 inhibitor Yervoy (ipilimumab) in first-line RCC, which was approved in the EU in January and in the US last year and is now considered a go-to regimen for first-line patients.
RCC is thought to have underpinned a lot of Opdivo’s recent sales growth, along with the checkpoint inhibitor’s use in adjuvant melanoma.
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