Drugs

FDA Alerts Health Care Professionals and Oncology Clinical Investigators about an Efficacy Issue Identified in Clinical Trials for Some Patients Taking Keytruda (pembrolizumab) or Tecentriq (atezolizumab) as Monotherapy to Treat Urothelial Cancer with Low Expression of PD-L1

Update [6/20/2018]: The FDA is restricting the use of Keytruda and Tecentriq for patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial cancer who are not eligible for cisplatin-containing therapy.

This results from decreased survival associated with the use of Keytruda (pembrolizumab) or Tecentriq (atezolizumab) as single therapy (monotherapy) compared to platinum-based chemotherapy in clinical trials to treat patients with metastatic urothelial cancer who have not received prior therapy and who have low expression of the protein programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1).

The labels of both drugs have been revised to reflect the restricted indications. The restricted indications for patients with urothelial cancer not eligible for cisplatin-containing therapy read as follows:

KEYTRUDA is indicated for the treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma who are not eligible for cisplatin-containing therapy and whose tumors express PD-L1 [Combined Positive Score (CPS) ≥ 10], or in patients who are not eligible for any platinum-containing chemotherapy regardless of PD-L1 status.

TECENTRIQ is indicated for the treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma who:

  • Are not eligible for cisplatin-containing therapy, and whose tumors express PD-L1 (PD-L1 stained tumor-infiltrating immune cells [IC] covering ≥5% of the tumor area), or
  • Are not eligible for any platinum-containing therapy regardless of level of tumor PD-L1 expression

The tests used in the trial to determine PD-L1 expression are listed in Section 14 of each label.

The FDA is reviewing the findings of ongoing analyses and will communicate new information regarding the PD-L1 assays and indications as it becomes available.

In patients already receiving Keytruda or Tecentriq who are responding to treatment and are cisplatin-ineligible, continuation of treatment could be considered, regardless of PD-L1 status. The FDA has not changed the indications of Keytruda and Tecentriq for the treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma who have disease progression during or following any platinum-containing chemotherapy, or within 12 months of neoadjuvant or adjuvant treatment.

Patients taking Keytruda or Tecentriq for other approved uses should continue to take their medication as directed by their health care professional.

Keytruda Prescribing Information
Tecentriq Prescribing Information

[5/18/2018] The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is alerting health care professionals, oncology clinical investigators, and the public about decreased survival associated with the use of Keytruda (pembrolizumab) or Tecentriq (atezolizumab) as single therapy (monotherapy) in clinical trials to treat patients with metastatic urothelial cancer who have not received prior therapy and who have low expression of the protein programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1).

In two ongoing clinical trials (KEYNOTE-361 and IMVIGOR-130), the Data Monitoring Committees’ (DMC) early reviews found patients in the monotherapy arms of both trials with PD-L1 low status had decreased survival compared to patients who received cisplatin- or carboplatin-based chemotherapy. There was no change in the adverse event profile of Keytruda or Tecentriq. Both Merck, manufacturer of Keytruda, and Genentech, manufacturer of Tecentriq, have stopped enrolling patients whose tumors have PD-L1 low status to the Keytruda or Tecentriq monotherapy arms per the DMCs’ recommendations.

The clinical trials compare platinum-based chemotherapy combined with Keytruda or Tecentriq to platinum-based chemotherapy alone. Both trials enrolled a third arm of monotherapy with Keytruda or Tecentriq to compare to platinum-based chemotherapy alone. The monotherapy arms remain open only to patients whose tumors have PD-L1 high status. The combination arms and the chemotherapy arms of both studies also remain open. The FDA is reviewing the findings of the ongoing clinical trials and will communicate new information as necessary.

Both Keytruda and Tecentriq are currently approved under accelerated approval for the treatment of locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma patients who are not eligible for cisplatin-containing chemotherapy, irrespective of PD-L1 status. Patients taking Keytruda or Tecentriq for other approved uses should continue to take their medication as directed by their health care professional.

Health care professionals should be aware that the populations enrolled in the ongoing clinical trials were eligible for platinum-containing chemotherapy, and therefore differ from those enrolled in the trials that led to the accelerated approvals of both Keytruda and Tecentriq in the treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma who are not eligible for cisplatin-containing chemotherapy. FDA recommends providers select patients for the treatment of locally advanced or metastatic urothelial cancer using the criteria described in Section 14 of each label. These criteria supported the approvals for Keytruda and Tecentriq for initial monotherapy in cisplatin-ineligible patients. Keytruda and Tecentriq are also currently approved by the FDA for the treatment of multiple types of other cancers.

Patients should talk to their doctor if they have questions or concerns about either drug. Health care professionals and patients are encouraged to report any adverse events or side effects related to the use of these products and other similar products to FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program.

Keytruda Prescribing Information
Tecentriq Prescribing Information

Page Last Updated: 06/20/2018
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