Long-Term Follow-Up Data Reinforce Continued Overall Survival Benefit of BAVENCIO® (avelumab) First-Line Maintenance Treatment in Patients with Advanced Urothelial Carcinoma
Not intended for UK-based media
- 38-month median follow-up data from the Phase III JAVELIN Bladder 100 trial demonstrated prolonged median OS of 23.8 months with BAVENCIO plus best supportive care (BSC) in the first-line maintenance setting versus a median OS of 15.0 months with BSC alone
- BAVENCIO continues to be the first and only immunotherapy to improve survival in the first-line setting in locally advanced or metastatic UC in a Phase III study
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a leading science and technology company, today announced the results of an exploratory analysis from the Phase III JAVELIN Bladder 100 trial with 19 additional months of follow-up data from the initial primary analysis. This analysis reinforced the original results and showed that BAVENCIO® (avelumab) plus best supportive care (BSC) in the first-line maintenance setting prolonged median overall survival (OS) by 8.8 months versus BSC alone for patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma (UC) whose tumors had not progressed on a platinum-based chemotherapy. These results were presented at the 2022 American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual Genitourinary Cancers Symposium taking place February 17-19, 2022.
“Since the introduction of the first-line maintenance regimen of BAVENCIO plus best supportive care, it has been recommended with the highest level of evidence in the NCCN, ESMO, EAU and JUA guidelines, and BAVENCIO first-line maintenance has become a standard of care in the locally advanced and metastatic UC treatment setting. The results from this analysis further reinforce the benefit of first-line maintenance therapy, and of BAVENCIO as the only immunotherapy in the maintenance setting shown to improve survival in this disease,” said Thomas Powles, MBBS, MRCP, MD, Professor of Genitourinary Oncology, Lead for Solid Tumor Research at Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London, and Director of Barts Cancer Centre, London, UK.
At 38 months median follow-up, patients who received first-line maintenance BAVENCIO plus BSC showed consistent overall survival benefit over patients on BSC alone.
- Median OS was 23.8 months (95% CI, 19.9 to 28.8) vs 15.0 months (95% CI, 13.5 to 18.2) (HR 0.76; 95% CI, 0.631 to 0.915).1
- 43.7% of patients (95% CI, 38.2% to 49.0%) in the BAVENCIO arm were alive at 30 months vs 33.5% (95% CI, 28.4% to 38.7%) of patients who received BSC alone.1
In the population of patients with PD-L1+ tumors (n=358):
- Median OS was 30.9 months (95% CI, 24.0 to 39.8) vs 18.5 months (95% CI, 14.1 to 24.2) (HR 0.69; 95% CI, 0.521 to 0.901).1
- More than half (51.3%; 95% CI, 43.7% to 58.4%) of patients who received BAVENCIO were alive at 30 months vs 38.5% (95% CI, 30.9% to 46.1%) in the BSC arm.1
Median overall survival was measured from the time of randomization, after completion of four to six cycles of platinum-based chemotherapy.
The safety profile for BAVENCIO was consistent with the overall JAVELIN monotherapy clinical development program, with no new safety signals. Patients continued treatment until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity or any other criteria for withdrawal occurred. In the primary population of all randomized patients, 19.5% of patients received ≥2 years of treatment, with 10.2% of patients discontinuing due to treatment-related adverse event with onset after ≥12 months of treatment.
“Locally advanced and metastatic urothelial carcinoma has a low five-year survival rate and high recurrence rate, requiring additional medicines to maintain the benefits of chemotherapy and improve survival rates. The continued improvement in survival in the JAVELIN Bladder 100 trial further supports the use of BAVENCIO as maintenance therapy in patients whose disease has not progressed on first-line platinum-containing chemotherapy and reinforces our commitment to further evaluation of BAVENCIO in advanced bladder cancer,” said Victoria Zazulina, MD, Head of Development Unit Oncology, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.
About JAVELIN Bladder 100
JAVELIN Bladder 100 (NCT02603432) is a Phase III, multicenter, multinational, randomized, open-label, parallel-arm study investigating first-line maintenance treatment with BAVENCIO plus BSC versus BSC alone in patients with locally advanced or metastatic UC. The primary endpoint was OS in the two primary populations of all patients and patients with PD-L1+ tumors defined by the Ventana SP263 assay. Secondary endpoints included progression-free survival, anti-tumor activity, safety, pharmacokinetics, immunogenicity, predictive biomarkers and patient-reported outcomes in the co-primary populations. All primary and secondary endpoints are measured from the time of randomization.
About Urothelial Carcinoma
Bladder cancer is the tenth most common cancer worldwide.2 In 2020, there were over half a million new cases of bladder cancer diagnosed, with around 200,000 deaths from the disease globally.2 In the US, an estimated 83,730 cases of bladder cancer were diagnosed in 2021, with around 10,000 locally advanced or metastatic cases presented annually.3 UC, which accounts for about 90% of all bladder cancers,4 becomes harder to treat as it advances, spreading through the layers of the bladder wall.5 Only 25% to 55% of patients receive any second-line therapy after first-line chemotherapy.6 In the US and EU5 markets, approximately 40% to 50% of patients receive an immune checkpoint inhibitor in second-line therapy.3 For patients with advanced UC, the five-year survival rate is 6.4%.3
About BAVENCIO® (avelumab)
BAVENCIO is a human anti-programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1) antibody. BAVENCIO has been shown in preclinical models to engage both the adaptive and innate immune functions. By blocking the interaction of PD-L1 with PD-1 receptors, BAVENCIO has been shown to release the suppression of the T cell-mediated antitumor immune response in preclinical models.7-9 In November 2014, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany and Pfizer announced a strategic alliance to co-develop and co-commercialize BAVENCIO.
BAVENCIO Approved Indications
BAVENCIO® (avelumab) is indicated in the US for the maintenance treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma (UC) that has not progressed with first-line platinum-containing chemotherapy. BAVENCIO is also indicated for the treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic UC who have disease progression during or following platinum-containing chemotherapy, or have disease progression within 12 months of neoadjuvant or adjuvant treatment with platinum-containing chemotherapy
BAVENCIO in combination with axitinib is indicated in the US for the first-line treatment of patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC).
In the US, the FDA granted accelerated approval for BAVENCIO for the treatment of adults and pediatric patients 12 years and older with metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and duration of response. Continued approval may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trials.
BAVENCIO is currently approved for at least one indication for patients in more than 50 countries.
BAVENCIO Important Safety Information from the US FDA-Approved Label
BAVENCIO can cause severe and fatal immune-mediated adverse reactions in any organ system or tissue and at any time after starting treatment with a PD-1/PD-L1 blocking antibody, including after discontinuation of treatment.
Early identification and management of immune-mediated adverse reactions are essential to ensure safe use of PD-1/PD-L1 blocking antibodies. Monitor patients closely for symptoms and signs that may be clinical manifestations of underlying immune-mediated adverse reactions. Evaluate liver enzymes, creatinine, and thyroid function at baseline and periodically during treatment. In cases of suspected immune-mediated adverse reactions, initiate appropriate workup to exclude alternative etiologies, including infection. Institute medical management promptly, including specialty consultation as appropriate.
No dose reduction for BAVENCIO is recommended. For immune-mediated adverse reactions, withhold or permanently discontinue BAVENCIO depending on severity. In general, withhold BAVENCIO for severe (Grade 3) immune-mediated adverse reactions. Permanently discontinue BAVENCIO for life-threatening (Grade 4) immune-mediated adverse reactions, recurrent severe (Grade 3) immune-mediated reactions that require systemic immunosuppressive treatment, or an inability to reduce corticosteroid dose to 10 mg or less of prednisone or equivalent per day within 12 weeks of initiating corticosteroids. In general, if BAVENCIO requires interruption or discontinuation, administer systemic corticosteroid therapy (1 to 2 mg/kg/day prednisone or equivalent) until improvement to Grade 1 or less. Upon improvement to Grade 1 or less, initiate corticosteroid taper and continue to taper over at least 1 month. Consider administration of other systemic immunosuppressants in patients whose immune-mediated adverse reactions are not controlled with corticosteroid therapy. Toxicity management guidelines for adverse reactions that do not necessarily require systemic corticosteroids (eg, endocrinopathies and dermatologic reactions) are discussed in subsequent sections.
BAVENCIO can cause immune-mediated pneumonitis, including fatal cases. Monitor patients for signs and symptoms of pneumonitis and evaluate suspected cases with radiographic imaging. Administer corticosteroids for Grade 2 or greater pneumonitis. Withhold BAVENCIO for Grade 2 and permanently discontinue for Grade 3 or Grade 4 pneumonitis. Immune-mediated pneumonitis occurred in 1.2% (21/1738) of patients, including fatal (0.1%), Grade 4 (0.1%), Grade 3 (0.3%) and Grade 2 (0.6%) adverse reactions. Systemic corticosteroids were required in all (21/21) patients with pneumonitis.
BAVENCIO can cause immune-mediated colitis. The primary component of immune-mediated colitis consisted of diarrhea. Cytomegalovirus infection/reactivation has been reported in patients with corticosteroid-refractory immune-mediated colitis. In cases of corticosteroid-refractory colitis, consider repeating infectious workup to exclude alternative etiologies. Withhold BAVENCIO for Grade 2 or Grade 3, and permanently discontinue for Grade 4 colitis. Immune-mediated colitis occurred in 1.5% (26/1738) of patients, including Grade 3 (0.4%) and Grade 2 (0.7%) adverse reactions. Systemic corticosteroids were required in all (26/26) patients with colitis.
BAVENCIO can cause hepatotoxicity and immune-mediated hepatitis. Withhold or permanently discontinue BAVENCIO based on tumor involvement of the liver and severity of aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), or total bilirubin elevation. Immune-mediated hepatitis occurred with BAVENCIO as a single agent in 0.9% (16/1738) of patients, including fatal (0.1%), Grade 3 (0.6%), and Grade 2 (0.1%) adverse reactions. Systemic corticosteroids were required in all (16/16) patients with hepatitis.
BAVENCIO in combination with INLYTA can cause hepatotoxicity with higher than expected frequencies of Grade 3 and 4 ALT and AST elevation compared to BAVENCIO alone. Consider more frequent monitoring of liver enzymes as compared to when the drugs are used as monotherapy. Withhold or permanently discontinue both BAVENCIO and INLYTA based on severity of AST, ALT, or total bilirubin elevation, and consider administering corticosteroids as needed. Consider rechallenge with BAVENCIO or INLYTA, or sequential rechallenge with both BAVENCIO and INLYTA, after recovery. In patients treated with BAVENCIO in combination with INLYTA in the advanced RCC trials, increased ALT and increased AST were reported in 9% (Grade 3) and 7% (Grade 4) of patients. Immune-mediated hepatitis was reported in 7% of patients including 4.9% with Grade 3 or 4 immune-mediated hepatitis. Thirty-four patients were treated with corticosteroids and one patient was treated with a non-steroidal immunosuppressant.
BAVENCIO can cause primary or secondary immune-mediated adrenal insufficiency. For Grade 2 or higher adrenal insufficiency, initiate symptomatic treatment, including hormone replacement, as clinically indicated. Withhold BAVENCIO for Grade 3 or Grade 4 endocrinopathies until clinically stable or permanently discontinue depending on severity. Immune-mediated adrenal insufficiency occurred in 0.5% (8/1738) of patients, including Grade 3 (0.1%) and Grade 2 (0.3%) adverse reactions. Systemic corticosteroids were required in all (8/8) patients with adrenal insufficiency.
BAVENCIO can cause immune-mediated hypophysitis. Hypophysitis can present with acute symptoms associated with mass effect such as headache, photophobia, or visual field defects. Hypophysitis can cause hypopituitarism. Initiate hormone replacement, as clinically indicated. Withhold BAVENCIO for Grade 3 or Grade 4 endocrinopathies until clinically stable or permanently discontinue depending on severity. Immune-mediated pituitary disorders occurred in 0.1% (1/1738) of patients, which was a Grade 2 (0.1%) adverse reaction.
BAVENCIO can cause immune-mediated thyroid disorders. Thyroiditis can present with or without endocrinopathy. Hypothyroidism can follow hyperthyroidism. Initiate hormone replacement for hypothyroidism or institute medical management of hyperthyroidism, as clinically indicated. Withhold BAVENCIO for Grade 3 or Grade 4 endocrinopathies until clinically stable or permanently discontinue depending on severity. Thyroiditis occurred in 0.2% (4/1738) of patients, including Grade 2 (0.1%) adverse reactions. Hyperthyroidism occurred in 0.4% (7/1738) of patients, including Grade 2 (0.3%) adverse reactions. Systemic corticosteroids were required in 29% (2/7) of patients with hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism occurred in 5% (90/1738) of patients, including Grade 3 (0.2%) and Grade 2 (3.7%) adverse reactions. Systemic corticosteroids were required in 7% (6/90) of patients with hypothyroidism.
BAVENCIO can cause immune-mediated type I diabetes mellitus, which can present with diabetic ketoacidosis. Monitor patients for hyperglycemia or other signs and symptoms of diabetes. Initiate treatment with insulin as clinically indicated. Withhold BAVENCIO for Grade 3 or Grade 4 endocrinopathies until clinically stable or permanently discontinue depending on severity. Immune-mediated type I diabetes mellitus occurred in 0.1% (2/1738) of patients, including Grade 3 (0.1%) adverse reactions.
BAVENCIO can cause immune-mediated nephritis with renal dysfunction. Withhold BAVENCIO for Grade 2 or Grade 3, and permanently discontinue for Grade 4 increased blood creatinine. Immune-mediated nephritis with renal dysfunction occurred in 0.1% (1/1738) of patients, which was a Grade 2 (0.1%) adverse reaction. Systemic corticosteroids were required in this patient.
BAVENCIO can cause immune-mediated dermatologic adverse reactions, including rash or dermatitis. Exfoliative dermatitis including Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS), drug rash with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS), and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), has occurred with PD-1/PD-L1 blocking antibodies. Topical emollients and/or topical corticosteroids may be adequate to treat mild to moderate non-exfoliative rashes. Withhold BAVENCIO for suspected and permanently discontinue for confirmed SJS, TEN, or DRESS. Immune-mediated dermatologic adverse reactions occurred in 5% (90/1738) of patients, including Grade 3 (0.1%) and Grade 2 (2.0%) adverse reactions. Systemic corticosteroids were required in 29% (26/90) of patients with dermatologic adverse reactions.
BAVENCIO can result in other immune-mediated adverse reactions. Other clinically significant immune-mediated adverse reactions occurred at an incidence of <1% in patients who received BAVENCIO or were reported with the use of other PD-1/PD-L1 blocking antibodies. For myocarditis, permanently discontinue BAVENCIO for Grade 2, Grade 3, or Grade 4. For neurological toxicities, withhold BAVENCIO for Grade 2 and permanently discontinue for Grade 3 or Grade 4.
BAVENCIO can cause severe or life-threatening infusion-related reactions. Premedicate patients with an antihistamine and acetaminophen prior to the first 4 infusions and for subsequent infusions based upon clinical judgment and presence/severity of prior infusion reactions. Monitor patients for signs and symptoms of infusion-related reactions, including pyrexia, chills, flushing, hypotension, dyspnea, wheezing, back pain, abdominal pain, and urticaria. Interrupt or slow the rate of infusion for Grade 1 or Grade 2 infusion-related reactions. Permanently discontinue BAVENCIO for Grade 3 or Grade 4 infusion-related reactions. Infusion-related reactions occurred in 25% of patients, including three (0.2%) Grade 4 and nine (0.5%) Grade 3 infusion-related reactions. Eleven (92%) of the 12 patients with Grade ≥3 reactions were treated with intravenous corticosteroids.
Fatal and other serious complications of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) can occur in patients who receive HSCT before or after being treated with a PD-1/PD-L1 blocking antibody. Follow patients closely for evidence of transplant-related complications and intervene promptly. Consider the benefit versus risks of treatment with a PD-1/PD-L1 blocking antibody prior to or after an allogeneic HSCT.
BAVENCIO in combination with INLYTA can cause major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) including severe and fatal events. Consider baseline and periodic evaluations of left ventricular ejection fraction. Monitor for signs and symptoms of cardiovascular events. Optimize management of cardiovascular risk factors, such as hypertension, diabetes, or dyslipidemia. Permanently discontinue BAVENCIO and INLYTA for Grade 3-4 cardiovascular events. MACE occurred in 7% of patients with advanced RCC treated with BAVENCIO in combination with INLYTA compared to 3.4% treated with sunitinib in a randomized trial. These events included death due to cardiac events (1.4%), Grade 3-4 myocardial infarction (2.8%), and Grade 3-4 congestive heart failure (1.8%).
BAVENCIO can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. Advise patients of the potential risk to a fetus including the risk of fetal death. Advise females of childbearing potential to use effective contraception during treatment with BAVENCIO and for at least 1 month after the last dose of BAVENCIO. It is not known whether BAVENCIO is excreted in human milk. Advise a lactating woman not to breastfeed during treatment and for at least 1 month after the last dose of BAVENCIO due to the potential for serious adverse reactions in breastfed infants.
The most common adverse reactions (all grades, ≥20%) in patients with metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) were fatigue (50%), musculoskeletal pain (32%), diarrhea (23%), nausea (22%), infusion-related reaction (22%), rash (22%), decreased appetite (20%), and peripheral edema (20%).
Selected treatment-emergent laboratory abnormalities (all grades, ≥20%) in patients with metastatic MCC were lymphopenia (49%), anemia (35%), increased aspartate aminotransferase (34%), thrombocytopenia (27%), and increased alanine aminotransferase (20%).
A fatal adverse reaction (sepsis) occurred in one (0.3%) patient with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma (UC) receiving BAVENCIO + best supportive care (BSC) as first-line maintenance treatment. In patients with previously treated locally advanced or metastatic UC, fourteen patients (6%) who were treated with BAVENCIO experienced either pneumonitis, respiratory failure, sepsis/urosepsis, cerebrovascular accident, or gastrointestinal adverse events, which led to death.
The most common adverse reactions (all grades, ≥20%) in patients with locally advanced or metastatic UC receiving BAVENCIO + BSC (vs BSC alone) as first-line maintenance treatment were fatigue (35% vs 13%), musculoskeletal pain (24% vs 15%), urinary tract infection (20% vs 11%), and rash (20% vs 2.3%). In patients with previously treated locally advanced or metastatic UC receiving BAVENCIO, the most common adverse reactions (all grades, ≥20%) were fatigue, infusion-related reaction, musculoskeletal pain, nausea, decreased appetite, and urinary tract infection.
Selected laboratory abnormalities (all grades, ≥20%) in patients with locally advanced or metastatic UC receiving BAVENCIO + BSC (vs BSC alone) as first-line maintenance treatment were blood triglycerides increased (34% vs 28%), alkaline phosphatase increased (30% vs 20%), blood sodium decreased (28% vs 20%), lipase increased (25% vs 16%), aspartate aminotransferase (AST) increased (24% vs 12%), blood potassium increased (24% vs 16%), alanine aminotransferase (ALT) increased (24% vs 12%), blood cholesterol increased (22% vs 16%), serum amylase increased (21% vs 12%), hemoglobin decreased (28% vs 18%), and white blood cell decreased (20% vs 10%).
Fatal adverse reactions occurred in 1.8% of patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC) receiving BAVENCIO in combination with INLYTA. These included sudden cardiac death (1.2%), stroke (0.2%), myocarditis (0.2%), and necrotizing pancreatitis (0.2%).
The most common adverse reactions (all grades, ≥20%) in patients with advanced RCC receiving BAVENCIO in combination with INLYTA (vs sunitinib) were diarrhea (62% vs 48%), fatigue (53% vs 54%), hypertension (50% vs 36%), musculoskeletal pain (40% vs 33%), nausea (34% vs 39%), mucositis (34% vs 35%), palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia (33% vs 34%), dysphonia (31% vs 3.2%), decreased appetite (26% vs 29%), hypothyroidism (25% vs 14%), rash (25% vs 16%), hepatotoxicity (24% vs 18%), cough (23% vs 19%), dyspnea (23% vs 16%), abdominal pain (22% vs 19%), and headache (21% vs 16%).
Selected laboratory abnormalities (all grades, ≥20%) worsening from baseline in patients with advanced RCC receiving BAVENCIO in combination with INLYTA (vs sunitinib) were blood triglycerides increased (71% vs 48%), blood creatinine increased (62% vs 68%), blood cholesterol increased (57% vs 22%), alanine aminotransferase increased (ALT) (50% vs 46%), aspartate aminotransferase increased (AST) (47% vs 57%), blood sodium decreased (38% vs 37%), lipase increased (37% vs 25%), blood potassium increased (35% vs 28%), platelet count decreased (27% vs 80%), blood bilirubin increased (21% vs 23%), and hemoglobin decreased (21% vs 65%).
All Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the EMD Group Website. In case you are a resident of the USA or Canada, please go to www.emdgroup.com/subscribe to register for your online subscription of this service. You may later change your selection or discontinue this service.
About Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a leading science and technology company, operates across healthcare, life science and electronics. Around 58,000 employees work to make a positive difference to millions of people’s lives every day by creating more joyful and sustainable ways to live. From advancing gene editing technologies and discovering unique ways to treat the most challenging diseases to enabling the intelligence of devices – the company is everywhere. In 2020, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, generated sales of € 17.5 billion in 66 countries.
The company holds the global rights to the name and trademark “Merck” internationally. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the business sectors of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany operate as EMD Serono in healthcare, MilliporeSigma in life science, and EMD Electronics. Since its founding in 1668, scientific exploration and responsible entrepreneurship have been key to the company’s technological and scientific advances. To this day, the founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed company.
1. Powles T, Park SH, Voog E, et al. Avelumab first-line (1L) maintenance for advanced urothelial carcinoma (UC): long-term follow up results from the JAVELIN Bladder 100 trial. Presented at ASCO GU 2022.
2. Sung H, et al. Global cancer statistics 2020: GLOBOCAN estimates of incidence and mortality worldwide for 36 cancers in 185 countries. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2021;0:1–41.
3. SEER. Cancer stat facts: bladder cancer. https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/urinb.html. Accessed February 2022.
4. Cancer.net. Bladder cancer: introduction. https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/bladder-cancer/introduction. Accessed February 2022.
5. American Cancer Society. What is bladder cancer? https://www.cancer.org/cancer/bladder-cancer/about/what-is-bladder-cancer.html. Accessed February 2022.
6. Cheeseman S, et al. Current treatment and outcomes benchmark for locally advanced or metastatic urothelial cancer from a large UK-based single centre. Front Oncol. 2020;10:167.
7. Boyerinas B, Jochems C, Fantini M, et al. Antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity activity of a novel anti-PD-L1 antibody avelumab (MSB0010718C) on human tumor cells. Cancer Immunol Res. 2015;3(10):1148-1157.
8. Dolan DE, Gupta S. PD-1 pathway inhibitors: changing the landscape of cancer immunotherapy. Cancer Control. 2014;21(3):231-237.
9. Dahan R, Sega E, Engelhardt J, et al. FcγRs modulate the anti-tumor activity of antibodies targeting the PD-1/PD-L1 axis. Cancer Cell. 2015;28(3):285-295.
Merck KGaA today shared updates on the company’s healthcare research and development strategy, aimed at doubling R&D productivity.