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Keytruda Extends Survival of NSCLC Patients when Combined with Chemotherapy, Company Announces

The makers of Keytruda have announced that, when combined with chemotherapy drugs pemetrexed and cisplatin or carboplatin, the drug extends overall survival (OS) in patients with metastatic non-squamous non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Keytruda, known as the ‘wonder drug’ is the first PD1 inhibitor/chemotherapy combination to show overall survival in NSCLC.

Merck funded the pivotal Phase 3 KEYNOTE-189 trial investigating Keytruda (pembrolizumab), in combination with pemetrexed (Alimta) and cisplatin (Platinol, CDDP) or carboplatin (Paraplatin), for the first-line treatment of patients with NSCLC. The trial met its dual primary endpoints of OS and progression-free survival (PFS).

According to a release by BusinessWire, “Based on an interim analysis conducted by the independent Data Monitoring Committee, treatment with Keytruda in combination with pemetrexed plus platinum chemotherapy resulted in significantly longer OS and PFS than pemetrexed plus platinum chemotherapy alone. The safety profile of Keytruda in this combination was consistent with that previously observed.”

“KEYNOTE-189 showed significant improvement in overall survival and progression-free survival for patients receiving Keytruda in the first-line setting in combination with traditional chemotherapy, compared with those receiving chemotherapy alone,” said President of Merck Research Laboratories, Dr. Roger M. Perlmutter. “We are deeply grateful to the KEYNOTE-189 patients and investigators for their important contributions to this landmark study, and we look forward to presenting the data in the near future,” he said.

The Keytruda/chemo combination has already received clearance in the U.S.


NSCLC and Mesothelioma

NSCLC and mesothelioma have a number of similarities. Both diseases affect the lungs and both are caused by exposure to asbestos. Other causes for NSCLC include smoking and air pollution.

The diseases have overlapping symptoms including coughing, chest pain, difficulty breathing, weight loss, and fatigue. Treatments and survival rates are similar as well. Mainstream treatment options for lung cancer are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

Though targeted differently, mesothelioma is also treated with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Both diseases have a 5–year survival rate of less than 20%. The 5-year survival rate for mesothelioma is 10%. The rate for NSCLC is close to 18%.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, talk to your doctor about innovative treatments such as combined Keytruda/chemotherapy. Newer treatments such as these could greatly improve outcomes.



American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society, Inc., 2018. Web. 24 Feb. 2018.

McKee, Selina. "Keytruda/chemo Combo Extends Survival in NSCLC Patients." PharmaTimes. PharmaTimes Media Limited, 17 Jan. 2018. Web. 24 Feb. 2018.

"Merck's KEYTRUDA(R) (pembrolizumab) Significantly Improved Overall Survival and Progression-Free Survival as First-Line Treatment in Combination with Pemetrexed and Platinum Chemotherapy for Patients with Metastatic Nonsquamous Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (KEYNOTE-189)." Business Wire, Inc., 16 Jan. 2018. Web. 24 Feb. 2018.