Dabrafenib/Trametinib Combo Improves OS Versus Vemurafenib in Advanced Melanoma

Silas Inman @silasinman
Published: Sunday, Sep 27, 2015

Dr. Caroline Robert

Caroline Robert, MD

The combination of dabrafenib (Tafinlar) plus trametinib (Mekinist) improved overall survival (OS) by 7.6 months compared with single-agent vemurafenib (Zelboraf) in patients with unresectable or metastatic BRAFV600E/K-mutant melanoma, according to a 2-year analysis of the phase III COMBI-v study presented at the 2015 European Cancer Congress.

At the longer analysis, the median OS with dabrafenib/trametinib was 25.6 months compared with 18 months with vemurafenib (HR, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.53-0.81; P <.001). The estimated 2-year OS rate was 51% with the combination compared with 38% with vemurafenib monotherapy.

“We observed a statistically significant reduction of 34% in the risk of death among patients receiving the combination therapy,” lead investigator Caroline Robert, MD, a medical oncologist at Gustave Roussy Institute in Villejuif, France, said in a statement. “The increased survival among these patients is remarkable, and this median overall survival of more than two years is the longest in this category of patients in a phase III randomized trial.”

In the COMBI-v trial, 704 patients were randomized to receive the combination of the MEK inhibitor trametinib and the BRAF inhibitor dabrafenib (n = 352) or monotherapy with the BRAF inhibitor vemurafenib (n = 352). In the combination arm, dabrafenib was administered at 150 mg twice daily with trametinib at 2 mg once daily. Vemurafenib was administered at 960 mg twice daily.

Baseline characteristics were well balanced between the two groups, except for gender. The combination arm contained 59% men compared with 51% in the vemurafenib arm. The median duration of treatment following progression was similar between arms. Nine percent of patients received the combination for 6 to 12 months compared with 1% in the vemurafenib arm.

The primary endpoint of the trial was OS, with secondary endpoints focused on progression-free survival (PFS), response, and safety. The study was stopped early at the recommendation of an Independent Data Monitoring Committee, following the demonstration of benefit at an interim analysis (P <.0214). Crossover from the combination arm to vemurafenib was not allowed.

At the updated analysis, the median PFS was 12.6 months with the combination versus 7.3 months for vemurafenib (HR, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.51-0.73; P <.001). “The 12.6 months of progression-free survival for patients on the combination treatment is the longest achieved in a randomized study for patients with the BRAFV600 mutation to date,” Robert commented.

In the earlier analysis of the study, which was conducted on less mature data, the median OS had not yet been reached compared with 17.2 months with vemurafenib (HR = 0.69; P = .002).2 At this time, the 1-year OS rate was 72% versus 65% for the combination and monotherapy, respectively. The median PFS was 11.4 months with the combination versus 7.3 months with the single-agent (HR, 0.56; 95% CI, 0.46-0.69; P <.001)

The most frequently reported adverse events (AEs) with the combination compared with vemurafenib, respectively, were pyrexia (53% vs 21%), chills (31% vs 8%), and vomiting (29% vs 15%). Discontinuation of treatment due to AEs was similar between the treatment groups (13% vs 12%).

A number of events were lower with the combination, particularly the incidence of rash (22% vs 43%), particularly grade 3 rash (1% vs 9%). Additionally, AEs were less frequent with the combination versus single-agent for photosensitivity reaction (4% vs 22%), hand-foot syndrome (4% vs 25%), skin papillomas (2% vs 23%), squamous-cell carcinomas and keratoacanthomas (1% vs 18%), and hyperkeratosis (4% vs 25%).

“This combination therapy is already available in the US and now also in Europe as a result of the European Commission’s decision to approve its use," said Robert. "This long-term benefit in terms of overall survival confirms the major potential of this combination in patients with metastatic melanoma."

In September 2015, the European Commission approved the combination of dabrafenib and trametinib for unresectable or metastatic BRAF-mutant melanoma. In the United States, the combination was granted an accelerated approval for BRAF-mutant melanoma in January 2014. An application for full approval was submitted to the FDA in July 2015, based on findings from the COMBI-v and COMBI-d studies.

View Conference Coverage
Online CME Activities
TitleExpiration DateCME Credits
Advances in™ Melanoma: Exploring BRAF/MEK in Adjuvant and Neoadjuvant SettingsSep 28, 20191.5
Medical Crossfire®: What Does Data Tell Us About How to Optimize Checkpoint Inhibitor Strategies Across Lines of Care for Patients with Melanoma?Nov 30, 20191.5
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