Dr. Levy on Impact of Nivolumab, Pembrolizumab Approvals in NSCLC

Benjamin P. Levy, MD
Published: Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016



Benjamin P. Levy, MD, assistant professor of Medicine, Hematology, and Medical Oncology at Mount Sinai Hospital, discusses how nivolumab (Opdivo) and pembrolizumab (Keytruda) have impacted the treatment landscape of non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

These two immunotherapy agents have altered and shifted the treatment paradigm of NSCLC, Levy explains. In two CheckMate studies, nivolumab was compared with docetaxel as a second-line treatment for both the squamous and nonsquamous patient populations. Nivolumab provided a meaningful improvement in overall survival in both studies, leading to the agent’s FDA approval.

Second, pembrolizumab has shown very competitive response rates in patients with PD-L1–expressing lung cancers that were squamous or adenocarcinoma, Levy says. This was approved based on data from the Keynote-010 study. The difference between nivolumab and pembrolizumab, he adds, is that pembrolizumab requires patients to be PD-L1–positive, and nivolumab does not include that in its indication. However, both of these are checkpoint inhibitors with similar activity and similar adverse event profiles.



Benjamin P. Levy, MD, assistant professor of Medicine, Hematology, and Medical Oncology at Mount Sinai Hospital, discusses how nivolumab (Opdivo) and pembrolizumab (Keytruda) have impacted the treatment landscape of non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

These two immunotherapy agents have altered and shifted the treatment paradigm of NSCLC, Levy explains. In two CheckMate studies, nivolumab was compared with docetaxel as a second-line treatment for both the squamous and nonsquamous patient populations. Nivolumab provided a meaningful improvement in overall survival in both studies, leading to the agent’s FDA approval.

Second, pembrolizumab has shown very competitive response rates in patients with PD-L1–expressing lung cancers that were squamous or adenocarcinoma, Levy says. This was approved based on data from the Keynote-010 study. The difference between nivolumab and pembrolizumab, he adds, is that pembrolizumab requires patients to be PD-L1–positive, and nivolumab does not include that in its indication. However, both of these are checkpoint inhibitors with similar activity and similar adverse event profiles.


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