The FINANCIAL — Novartis on September 28 announced updated data from the Phase III COMBI-v study showing a significant overall survival benefit for patients with BRAF V600E/K mutation-positive metastatic melanoma when treated with the combination of Tafinlar (dabrafenib) + Mekinist (trametinib) compared to vemurafenib monotherapy.
The combination also demonstrated significant health-related quality of life improvements in the trial, including overall health, physical and social functioning. Results are being presented at the European Cancer Congress 2015 in Vienna, according to Novartis.
“It is remarkable to see so many patients with BRAF V600E/K mutation-positive metastatic melanoma having long term responses and obtaining a significant decrease of the risk of death as compared with vemurafenib monotherapy,” said Caroline Robert, MD, PhD, Head of Dermatology, Institute Gustave-Roussy. “This is the second Phase III trial of Tafinlar + Mekinist combination therapy to demonstrate a significant overall survival benefit over BRAF inhibitor monotherapy, further establishing Tafinlar + Mekinist as a standard of care for patients fighting BRAF V600 mutation-positive metastatic melanoma.”
The significant overall survival benefit of Tafinlar + Mekinist from COMBI-v is consistent with the results demonstrated by the combination in COMBI-d, another Phase III trial previously reported at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting earlier this year.
In the COMBI-v study, the combination of Tafinlar + Mekinist achieved a statistically significant overall survival (OS) benefit compared to vemurafenib monotherapy (median for the combination 25.6 months vs 18.0 months; HR 0.66 [95% CI, 0.53-0.81], p<0.001). The rate of OS at two years was 51% for those receiving the Tafinlar + Mekinist combination and 38% for those receiving vemurafenib monotherapy. In addition, the median overall response rate (ORR) was 65.6% in patients receiving the Tafinlar + Mekinist combination compared to 52.8% for those receiving vemurafenib monotherapy. The safety results from this study were consistent with the profile observed to date for the combination; no new safety concerns were observed.
“Helping patients live longer with our targeted combination therapy, Tafinlar and Mekinist, is very gratifying,” said Bruno Strigini, President, Novartis Oncology. “This exemplifies our mission to transform cancer care with the ultimate goal of identifying the right treatment for the right patient at the right time.”
Metastatic melanoma is the most serious and life-threatening type of skin cancer and only about one in five patients survives for five years following diagnosis with late-stage disease. There are about 200,000 new cases of melanoma diagnosed worldwide each year, approximately half of which have BRAF mutations. Gene tests can determine whether a tumor has a BRAF mutation, and results can play a key role in prognosis and determining appropriate treatment.
In August 2015, the European Commission approved the combination of Tafinlar + Mekinist for the treatment of adult patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma with a BRAF V600 mutation. The European Commission approval applies to all 28 EU member states, plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. In July 2015, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted priority review for an application to obtain regular approval of the Tafinlar + Mekinist combination in BRAF V600E/K mutation-positive metastatic melanoma. Since January 2014, the combination of Tafinlar + Mekinist has been approved for use in the US in patients with BRAF V600E/K mutation-positive unresectable or metastatic melanoma as detected by an FDA-approved test. The combination was approved through the FDA’s Accelerated Approval program and reviewed under a priority review designation. The approval was contingent on the results of the COMBI-d study, which was designed to evaluate the clinical benefit of the combination in patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma with a BRAF V600E/K mutation.