Kidney Cancer Updates

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News concerning combination drugs in the kidney cancer space continues apace. Recently, Merck & Co. and Pfizer obtained approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a combination of Merck’s Keytruda (pembrolizumab) and Pfizer’s Inlyta (axitinib) as a frontline treatment for patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma.

OncLive reported that the findings from the phase 3 KEYNOTE-426 trial showed that the frontline combination significantly improved overall response rates (ORRs), as well as progression-free and overall survival compared with Pfizer’s Sutent (sunitinib), a tyrosine kinase inhibitor. The data showed that the combination reduced the risk of death by 47% versus sunitinib alone (95% CI).

“This is the first anti–PD-1 therapy that is approved as part of a combination regimen that significantly improved overall survival, progression-free survival, and ORR compared with sunitinib in this patient population,” OncLive reported.

For those striving to make sense of the marketplace for therapies for RCC patients, especially those with advanced cancer, Motley Fool has published an informative story that guides readers through the most promising competitors, including those mentioned above, Bristol-Myers Squibb with its combination of Opdivo and Yervoy, as well as Exelixis with Cabometyx and Novartis with Afinitor.

Says Motley Fool, “The highest sales in the kidney-cancer market will go to the drug—or, at this point, drug combination—used by the most first-line patients. But that treatment will fail for many patients, offering plenty of opportunity for good drugs to be used as second-line treatments.”

In other cancer news, Hoffmann–La Roche (Basel, Switzerland) and Genentech, (South San Francisco, CA) have published results of their drug atezolizumab (Hoffman-LaRoche brand name Tecentriq) in combination with bevacizumab (Genentech’s Avastin) versus sunitinib as a first-line therapy for metastatic renal cell carcinoma.

The study, published recently in the Lancet, showed that the combination of drugs prolonged progression-free survival compared with sunitinib and had a favorable safety profile. Further research is needed to demonstrate a survival benefit to the combination, the authors wrote.