FDA Grants BAVENCIO (avelumab) Approval for a Common Type of Advanced Bladder Cancer

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The FINANCIAL — EMD Serono, the biopharmaceutical business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, in the US and Canada, and Pfizer Inc. on May 9 announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved BAVENCIO (avelumab) Injection for the treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma (UC) who have disease progression during or following platinum-containing chemotherapy, or who have disease progression within 12 months of neoadjuvant or adjuvant treatment with platinum-containing chemotherapy.

BAVENCIO was previously granted accelerated approval from the FDA for the treatment of adults and pediatric patients 12 years and older with metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). These indications are approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response and duration of response. Continued approval for these indications may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trials, according to Pfizer.

“This approval for BAVENCIO in patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma exemplifies our unwavering commitment to finding new treatments for the most challenging cancers,” said Luciano Rossetti, M.D., Executive Vice President, Global Head of Research & Development at the biopharma business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. “Coming just a few weeks after the approval for metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma, we continue to demonstrate our ability to accelerate access to innovative medicines for patients in need.”

“This approval builds on the ongoing clinical development program for BAVENCIO in urothelial carcinoma and reinforces our commitment to providing new medicines to patients with difficult-to-treat cancers,” said Liz Barrett, Global President, Pfizer Oncology. “By drawing on the strength of the alliance, as well as Pfizer’s deep experience in genitourinary cancers, we believe BAVENCIO will be an important treatment option, and we hope it will help to improve outcomes for these patients.”

Bladder cancer makes up approximately 90% of urothelial carcinomas and is the sixth most common cancer in the US.2,3 When the disease has metastasized, the five-year survival rate is approximately 5%.4 Despite advances in the treatment of locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma, the prognosis for patients remains poor and more treatment options are needed.

“Once urothelial carcinoma progresses after treatment with chemotherapy, the five-year survival rate is alarmingly low,” said Dr. Andrea Apolo, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, US. “Until recently, there had been limited innovation in urothelial carcinoma, and this approval gives us another treatment to help battle this aggressive disease.”

The efficacy and safety of BAVENCIO was demonstrated in the urothelial carcinoma cohorts (N=242) of the JAVELIN Solid Tumor trial, a Phase I, open-label, single-arm, multicenter study of BAVENCIO in the treatment of various solid tumors. The urothelial carcinoma cohorts enrolled patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma with disease progression on or after platinum-containing chemotherapy or who had disease progression within 12 months of treatment with a platinum-containing neoadjuvant or adjuvant chemotherapy regimen. These data will be presented at an upcoming medical congress.

The warnings and precautions for BAVENCIO include immune-mediated adverse reactions (such as pneumonitis, hepatitis, colitis, endocrinopathies, nephritis and renal dysfunction and other adverse reactions), infusion-related reactions and embryo-fetal toxicity. The most common adverse reactions (reported in at least 20% of patients) in patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma were fatigue (41%), infusion-related reaction (30%), musculoskeletal pain (25%), nausea (24%), decreased appetite/hypophagia (21%) and urinary tract infection (21%).1 For more information, please see Important Safety Information for BAVENCIO below.

BAVENCIO is designed to potentially engage both the adaptive and innate immune systems. By binding to PD-L1, BAVENCIO is thought to prevent tumor cells from using PD-L1 for protection against white blood cells, such as T cells, exposing them to anti-tumor responses.1 BAVENCIO has also been shown to induce antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) in vitro.

 

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