- For Print
- January 20, 2022
TOKYO and KENILWORTH, N.J., January 20, 2022 – Eisai (Headquarters: Tokyo, CEO: Haruo Naito) and Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A. (known as MSD outside the United States and Canada) today announced the publication of results from the Phase 3 Study 309/KEYNOTE-775 trial in the January 19, 2022 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine. The pivotal study evaluated the combination of LENVIMA, the orally available multiple receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor discovered by Eisai, plus KEYTRUDA, the anti-PD-1 therapy from Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A. versus chemotherapy (treatment of physician’s choice of doxorubicin or paclitaxel) for patients with advanced endometrial carcinoma following at-least one prior platinum-based regimen in any setting.
The publication includes previously reported data that was first presented in an oral plenary session at the virtual Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO) 2021 Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer.1 Results showed that the LENVIMA plus KEYTRUDA combination demonstrated statistically significant improvements in the dual primary endpoints of overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) compared to chemotherapy. Objective response rate (ORR) data and additional detailed efficacy and safety data, including subgroup analyses, are also featured in the publication.
“While rates of endometrial carcinoma continue to rise globally, patients with advanced or recurrent disease have limited options available to them once the disease progresses following platinum-based chemotherapy,” said Dr. Gregory Lubiniecki, Vice President, Oncology Clinical Research, Merck Research Laboratories. “KEYNOTE-775/Study 309 is an important Phase 3 study that supported recent approvals of KEYTRUDA plus LENVIMA for certain types of advanced endometrial carcinoma in the U.S. and other countries around the world, where it became the first immunotherapy and tyrosine kinase inhibitor combination approved for these patients.”
“The Phase 3 Study 309/KEYNOTE-775 trial demonstrates the ongoing commitment that Eisai and Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A. share in addressing the unmet needs of people living with difficult-to-treat cancers, including advanced endometrial carcinoma,” said Corina Dutcus, M.D., Senior Vice President, Clinical Research, Oncology Business Group at Eisai Inc. “The publication of this study in the New England Journal of Medicine reflects the importance of our joint research in exploring the potential of the LENVIMA plus KEYTRUDA combination.”
The publication contains results for the all-comer population, including the mismatch repair deficient (dMMR) patient population for which LENVIMA plus KEYTRUDA is not approved in the U.S.
Based on the results from the Phase 3 Study 309/KEYNOTE-775 trial, LENVIMA plus KEYTRUDA has been approved in the U.S. for patients with advanced endometrial carcinoma that is not microsatellite instability-high or dMMR, who have disease progression following prior systemic therapy in any setting and are not candidates for curative surgery or radiation. LENVIMA plus KEYTRUDA is also approved in the European Union and Japan for certain patients with advanced or recurrent endometrial carcinoma regardless of mismatch repair status. Eisai and Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A. are studying the LENVIMA plus KEYTRUDA combination through the LEAP (LEnvatinib And Pembrolizumab) clinical program in more than 10 different tumor types across more than 20 clinical trials.
Eisai Co., Ltd.
Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A.
Melissa Moody: +1-(215) 407-3536
Nikki Sullivan: +1-(718) 644-0730
Peter Dannenbaum: +1- (908) 740-1037Raychel Kruper: +1-(908) 740- 2107
About Study 309/KEYNOTE-775 Trial
Study 309/KEYNOTE-775 (ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03517449) is a Phase 3 multicenter, open-label, randomized, active-controlled study conducted in 827 patients with advanced endometrial carcinoma who had been previously treated with at least one prior platinum-based chemotherapy regimen in any setting, including in the neoadjuvant and adjuvant settings. Participants may have received up to two platinum-containing therapies in total, as long as one was given in the neoadjuvant or adjuvant treatment setting. The study excluded patients with endometrial sarcoma, carcinosarcoma, pre-existing Grade ≥3 fistula, uncontrolled blood pressure (>150/90 mmHg), significant cardiovascular impairment or event within previous 12 months or patients who had active autoimmune disease or a medical condition that required immunosuppression. The primary efficacy outcome measures were OS, and PFS as assessed by blinded independent central review (BICR) according to Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors Version (RECIST) v1.1. Secondary efficacy outcome measures included ORR as assessed by BICR.
Patients were randomized 1:1 to receive LENVIMA (20 mg orally once daily) plus KEYTRUDA (200 mg intravenously every three weeks) or investigator’s choice, consisting of either doxorubicin (60 mg/m2 every three weeks) or paclitaxel (80 mg/m2 given weekly, three weeks on/one week off). Treatment with LENVIMA plus KEYTRUDA continued until RECIST v1.1-defined progression of disease as verified by BICR, unacceptable toxicity, or for KEYTRUDA, a maximum of 24 months. Administration of LENVIMA plus KEYTRUDA was permitted beyond RECIST-defined disease progression if the treating investigator considered the patient to be deriving clinical benefit and the treatment was tolerated.
About Endometrial Carcinoma2,3,4,5,6
Endometrial carcinoma begins in the inner lining of the uterus, which is known as the endometrium and is the most common type of cancer in the uterus. In 2020, it was estimated there were more than 417,000 new cases and more than 97,000 deaths from uterine body cancers worldwide (these estimates include both endometrial carcinomas and uterine sarcomas; more than 90% of uterine body cancers occur in the endometrium, so the actual numbers for endometrial carcinoma cases and deaths are slightly lower than these estimates). In Japan, there were more than 17,000 new cases of uterine body cancer and more than 3,000 deaths from the disease in 2020. In the U.S., it is estimated there will be nearly 66,000 new cases of uterine body cancer and nearly 13,000 deaths from the disease in 2022. In Europe, it is estimated there were more than 130,000 new cases of uterine body cancer and more than 29,000 deaths in 2020. The five-year relative survival rate for metastatic endometrial carcinoma (stage IV) is estimated to be approximately 17%.
About LENVIMA® (lenvatinib) Capsules
LENVIMA, discovered and developed by Eisai, is an orally available kinase inhibitor that inhibits the kinase activities of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptors VEGFR1 (FLT1), VEGFR2 (KDR), and VEGFR3 (FLT4). LENVIMA inhibits other kinases that have been implicated in pathogenic angiogenesis, tumor growth, and cancer progression in addition to their normal cellular functions, including fibroblast growth factor (FGF) receptors FGFR1-4, the platelet derived growth factor receptor alpha (PDGFRα), KIT, and RET. In syngeneic mouse tumor models, LENVIMA decreased tumor-associated macrophages, increased activated cytotoxic T cells, and demonstrated greater antitumor activity in combination with an anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibody compared to either treatment alone.
Currently, LENVIMA has been approved for monotherapy as a treatment for thyroid cancer in over 75 countries including Japan, in Europe, China and in Asia, and in the United States for locally recurrent or metastatic, progressive, radioiodine-refractory differentiated thyroid cancer. In addition, LENVIMA has been approved for monotherapy as a treatment for unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma in over 70 countries including Japan, in Europe, China and in Asia, and in the United States for first-line unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma. LENVIMA has been approved for monotherapy as a treatment for unresectable thymic carcinoma in Japan. It is also approved in combination with everolimus as a treatment for renal cell carcinoma following prior antiangiogenic therapy in over 60 countries, including in Europe and Asia, and in the United States the treatment of adult patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma following one prior anti-angiogenic therapy. In Europe, the agent was launched under the brand name Kisplyx® for renal cell carcinoma. LENVIMA has been approved in combination with KEYTRUDA (generic name: pembrolizumab), for the first-line treatment of adult patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC) in United States and in Europe. LENVIMA has been approved in combination with KEYTRUDA as a treatment for advanced endometrial carcinoma that is not microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) or mismatch repair deficient (dMMR) who have disease progression following prior systemic therapy in any setting and are not candidates for curative surgery or radiation in the United States, and has been approved for the similar indication (including conditional approval) in over 10 countries such as Canada and Australia. In some regions, continued approval for this indication is contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in the confirmatory trials. In Europe, it has been approved in combination with KEYTRUDA (generic name: pembrolizumab) as the treatment of advanced or recurrent endometrial carcinoma in adults who have disease progression on or following prior treatment with a platinum containing therapy in any setting and who are not candidates for curative surgery or radiation. In Japan, it has been approved for the treatment of unresectable advanced or recurrent endometrial carcinoma that progressed after cancer chemotherapy.
About KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Injection, 100mg
KEYTRUDA is an anti-programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1) therapy that works by increasing the ability of the body’s immune system to help detect and fight tumor cells. KEYTRUDA is a humanized monoclonal antibody that blocks the interaction between PD-1 and its ligands, PD-L1 and PD-L2, thereby activating T lymphocytes which may affect both tumor cells and healthy cells.
Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A. has the industry’s largest immuno-oncology clinical research program. There are currently more than 1,600 trials studying KEYTRUDA across a wide variety of cancers and treatment settings. The KEYTRUDA clinical program seeks to understand the role of KEYTRUDA across cancers and the factors that may predict a patient's likelihood of benefitting from treatment with KEYTRUDA, including exploring several different biomarkers.
About the Eisai and Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A. Strategic Collaboration
In March 2018, Eisai and Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A., known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, through an affiliate, entered into a strategic collaboration for the worldwide co-development and co-commercialization of LENVIMA. Under the agreement, the companies will jointly develop, manufacture and commercialize LENVIMA, both as monotherapy and in combination with KEYTRUDA, the anti-PD-1 therapy from Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A.
In addition to ongoing clinical studies evaluating the LENVIMA plus KEYTRUDA combination across several different tumor types, the companies have jointly initiated new clinical studies through the LEAP (LEnvatinib And Pembrolizumab) clinical program and are evaluating the combination in more than 10 different tumor types across more than 20 clinical trials.
Eisai’s Focus on Cancer
Eisai focuses on the development of anticancer drugs, targeting the tumor microenvironment (with experience and knowledge from existing in-house discovered compounds) and the driver gene mutation and aberrant splicing (leveraging RNA Splicing Platform) as areas (Ricchi) where real patient needs are still unmet, and where Eisai can aim to become a frontrunner in oncology. Eisai aspires to discover innovative new drugs with new targets and mechanisms of action from these Ricchi, with the aim of contributing to the cure of cancers.
Eisai is a leading global research and development-based pharmaceutical company headquartered in Japan, with approximately 10,000 employees worldwide. We define our corporate mission as “giving first thought to patients and their families and to increasing the benefits health care provides,” which we call our human health care (hhc) philosophy. We strive to realize our hhc philosophy by delivering innovative products in therapeutic areas with high unmet medical needs, including Oncology and Neurology. In the spirit of hhc, we take that commitment even further by applying our scientific expertise, clinical capabilities and patient insights to discover and develop innovative solutions that help address society’s toughest unmet needs, including neglected tropical diseases and the Sustainable Development Goals.
For more information about Eisai, please visit www.eisai.com (for global headquarters: Eisai. Co., Ltd.), us.eisai.com (for U.S. headquarters: Eisai, Inc.) or www.eisai.eu (for Europe, Middle East, Africa, Russia, Australia and New Zealand headquarters: Eisai Europe Ltd.), and connect with us on Twitter (U.S. and global) and LinkedIn (for U.S. and EMEA).
Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A.’s Focus on Cancer
Our goal is to translate breakthrough science into innovative oncology medicines to help people with cancer worldwide. At Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A., the potential to bring new hope to people with cancer drives our purpose and supporting accessibility to our cancer medicines is our commitment. As part of our focus on cancer, Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A. is committed to exploring the potential of immuno-oncology with one of the largest development programs in the industry across more than 30 tumor types. We also continue to strengthen our portfolio through strategic acquisitions and are prioritizing the development of several promising oncology candidates with the potential to improve the treatment of advanced cancers. For more information about our oncology clinical trials, visit www.merck.com/clinicaltrials.
About Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A.
For over 130 years, Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A., known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases in pursuit of our mission to save and improve lives. We demonstrate our commitment to patients and population health by increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. Today, Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A. continues to be at the forefront of research to prevent and treat diseases that threaten people and animals – including cancer, infectious diseases such as HIV and Ebola, and emerging animal diseases – as we aspire to be the premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical company in the world. For more information, visit www.merck.com and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.
Forward-Looking Statement of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA
This news release of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA (the “company”) includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of the company’s management and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. There can be no guarantees with respect to pipeline products that the products will receive the necessary regulatory approvals or that they will prove to be commercially successful. If underlying assumptions prove inaccurate or risks or uncertainties materialize, actual results may differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements.
Risks and uncertainties include but are not limited to, general industry conditions and competition; general economic factors, including interest rate and currency exchange rate fluctuations; the impact of the global outbreak of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19); the impact of pharmaceutical industry regulation and health care legislation in the United States and internationally; global trends toward health care cost containment; technological advances, new products and patents attained by competitors; challenges inherent in new product development, including obtaining regulatory approval; the company’s ability to accurately predict future market conditions; manufacturing difficulties or delays; financial instability of international economies and sovereign risk; dependence on the effectiveness of the company’s patents and other protections for innovative products; and the exposure to litigation, including patent litigation, and/or regulatory actions.
The company undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Additional factors that could cause results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements can be found in the company’s 2020 Annual Report on Form 10-K and the company’s other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) available at the SEC’s Internet site (www.sec.gov).
1 Eisai co., Ltd. Home page. “LENVIMA® (lenvatinib) Plus KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) Significantly Improved Progression-Free Survival and Overall Survival Versus Chemotherapy in Patients With Advanced Endometrial Cancer Following Prior Platinum-Based Chemotherapy in Phase 3 Study”. News release.
2 American Cancer Society, “Causes, Risks, Prevention.” Endometrial Cancer.
3 International Agency for Research on Cancer, World Health Organization. “Corpus uteri Fact Sheet.” Cancer Today, 2020.
4 International Agency for Research on Cancer, World Health Organization. “Japan Fact Sheet.” Cancer Today, 2020.
5 American Cancer Society, “About and Key Statistics.” Endometrial Cancer.
6 American Cancer Society, “Detection, Diagnosis, Staging.” Endometrial Cancer.