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FDA Grants Frontline Pembrolizumab Regimen Priority Review for Squamous NSCLC

Jason M. Broderick @jasoncology
Published: Monday, Jul 02, 2018

Dr. Roy Baynes
Roy Baynes, MD, PhD
The FDA has granted a priority review designation to a supplemental biologics license application (sBLA) for first-line pembrolizumab (Keytruda) for use in combination with carboplatin/paclitaxel or nab-paclitaxel (Abraxane) for the treatment of patients with metastatic squamous non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), regardless of PD-L1 expression.

), plus pembrolizumab (200 mg every 3 weeks) or placebo for 4 cycles (each 3 weeks), followed by single-agent pembrolizumab (200 mg every 3 weeks) or placebo for up to 31 cycles, for a potential total of 35 cycles.

After the initial 4 cycles, patients randomized to the placebo arm were allowed to cross over to receive pembrolizumab for the potential additional 31 cycles. The coprimary endpoints were OS and PFS. A key secondary endpoint for the study was ORR.

Two-hundred seventy-eight patients were treated in the pembrolizumab cohort and 281 patients received treatment in the chemotherapy-alone arm. In the pembrolizumab arm, 121 patients remained on treatment and 157 had discontinued. The primary reasons for discontinuing were progressive disease (n = 99) and adverse events (AEs; n = 48). In the chemotherapy-alone arm, 72 patients remained on treatment, with 208 having discontinued, primarily due to progression (n = 166) and AEs (n = 25).

Patient characteristics were well balanced at baseline between the 2 arms. In the pembrolizumab arm, the median age was 65.0 years (range, 29-87), 79.1% of patients were men, 73.7% had an ECOG performance status of 1, 7.2% had stable brain metastases, and 92.1% were current/former smokers. Additionally, 60.8% received paclitaxel as their taxane, 6.1% had prior thoracic radiation, and 1.8% had prior (neo)adjuvant therapy.

PD-L1 status was measured by tumor proportion score (TPS). In the pembrolizumab arm, 34.2%, 37.1% and 26.1% had a PD-L1 TPS status of <1%, 1%-49%, and ≥50%, respectively. The corresponding rates in the placebo arm were 35.2%, 37.0%, and 26.0%, respectively.

The HR for OS was 0.61, 0.57, and 0.64 favoring the pembrolizumab arm in the TPS <1%, <1%-49%, and ≥50% subgroups, respectively. Across the same 3 subgroups, the HR for PFS favoring the pembrolizumab arm was 0.68, 0.56, and 0.37, respectively.

The median treatment duration was 6.3 months in the pembrolizumab arm compared with 4.7 months in the placebo arm. Grade 3/5 all-causes AEs occurred in 69.8% versus 68.2% of the 2 arms, respectively. Treatment-related AEs (TRAEs) led to discontinuation in 23.4% of the experimental arm versus 11.8% of the control arm. Grade 3/5 immune-mediated AEs and infusion reactions occurred in 10.8% versus 3.2% of the 2 arms respectively. Overall, TRAEs led to death in 3.6% versus 2.1% of the 2 arms, respectively.

Pembrolizumab currently has 2 FDA approvals in the frontline NSCLC setting. In October 2016, the FDA approved single-agent pembrolizumab for the frontline treatment of patients with metastatic NSCLC whose tumors have ≥50% PD-L1 expression based on an FDA-approved test and who do not harbor EGFR or ALK aberrations. In May 2017, the FDA granted an accelerated approval to pembrolizumab for use in combination with pemetrexed plus carboplatin as a frontline treatment for patients with metastatic or advanced nonsquamous NSCLC, regardless of PD-L1 expression.
Paz-Ares LG, Luft A, Tafreshi A, et al. Phase 3 study of carboplatin-paclitaxel/nab-paclitaxel (Chemo) with or without pembrolizumab (Pembro) for patients (Pts) with metastatic squamous (Sq) non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). J Clin Oncol. 2018;36 (suppl; abstr 105).

 



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