The Food and Drug Administration has approved pembrolizumab (Keytruda) for the first-line treatment of patients with metastatic or unresectable recurrent head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).
FDAwas based on results of the randomized, multicenter, three-arm, open‑label, active‑controlled trial. The 882 patients in the trial had metastatic HNSCC, and they received either single-agent pembrolizumab; pembrolizumab, carboplatin or cisplatin, and platinum and fluorouracil; or cetuximab, carboplatin or cisplatin, and platinum and fluorouracil.
Patients who received pembrolizumab plus chemotherapy had a mean overall survival of 13.0 months, compared with 10.7 months in the cetuximab plus chemotherapy group (hazard ratio, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.63-0.93; P = .0067).
In the patient subgroups that received single-agent pembrolizumab, overall survival was 12.3 months in patients with a Combined Positive Score of at least 1, compared with 10.3 months for the cetuximab plus chemotherapy group (HR, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.64-0.96; P = .0171). In patients with a Combined Positive Score of at least 20, overall survival was 14.9 months in the pembrolizumab-only group and 10.7 months in the cetuximab plus chemotherapy group (HR, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.45-0.83; P = .0015).
The most common adverse events in patients who received single-agent pembrolizumab were fatigue, constipation, and rash. In patients who received pembrolizumab plus chemotherapy, the most common adverse events were nausea, fatigue, constipation, vomiting, mucosal inflammation, diarrhea, decreased appetite, stomatitis, and cough.
Pembrolizumab is approved for use in combination with platinum and fluorouracil for all patients and as a single agent for patients whose tumors express programmed death–ligand 1, the FDA said.
The FDA also expanded the intended use for the PD-L1 IHC 22C3 pharmDx kit to include use as a companion diagnostic device for selecting patients with HNSCC for treatment with pembrolizumab as a single agent.
Find the fullon the FDA website.