Keytruda Found Effective In yet another Cancer Indication

“It is very encouraging that Keytruda in combination with chemotherapy has now demonstrated positive results …”


Keytruda (pembrolizumab), which is developed by Merck and Co., has found to be effective in treating yet another cancer indication.

The company announced the results of a clinical trial in which the drug Keytruda, when used in combination with chemotherapy, has been found effective in patients with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer.

The trial showed that first-line treatment with Keytruda along with cytotoxic agents such as nab-paclitaxel, paclitaxel or gemcitabine/carboplatin had a significant improvement in progression-free survival when compared to chemotherapy alone.

Dr. Roger Perlmutter, executive vice president of Merck & Co. and president of Merck Research Laboratories, said, “Triple-negative breast cancer [TNBC] is an aggressive malignancy. It is very encouraging that Keytruda in combination with chemotherapy has now demonstrated positive results as both a first-line treatment in the metastatic setting with this trial and as neoadjuvant therapy in the KEYNOTE-522 trial.”

“We look forward to sharing these findings with the medical community at an upcoming congress and discussing them with the FDA and other regulatory authorities,” he added.

TNBC is one of the aggressive forms of breast cancer, with a high recurrence rate. It affects about 15 to 20 percent of all breast cancer patients.

The triple-negative in TNBC refers to testing negative for all three hormone receptors – progesterone receptor, estrogen receptor, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2).

Most breast cancer treatments target one or more of these hormone receptors. And the lack of all three receptors makes it difficult for treatment to target the cancer.

Chairman and CEO of Merck Kenneth Frazier said, “Over the past several years, we have purposefully shifted the focus of our efforts and resources to our best opportunities for growth.”

The company noted that its new footprint would generate around 75 percent of sales outside the U.S. Frazier said, “By optimizing our human health portfolio, Merck can move closer to its aspiration of being the premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical company, while also properly prioritizing a set of products at NewCo that are important to public health and the patients who rely on them, and which present real opportunities for growth.”