BAVENCIO Significantly Improved Overall Survival in Patients With Locally Advanced or Metastatic Urothelial Carcinoma

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, which operates its biopharmaceutical business as EMD Serono in the US and Canada, and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) today announced the Phase III JAVELIN Bladder 100 study met its ...

06 Jan 2020 | Darmstadt, Germany

Not intended for UK-based media

  • At the planned interim analysis, Phase III JAVELIN Bladder 100 study met the primary endpoint of prolonging overall survival (OS) as a first-line maintenance treatment versus standard of care
  • BAVENCIO is the first immunotherapy to significantly prolong OS in locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma (UC) in the first-line setting in a Phase III trial

Darmstadt, Germany, and New York, US, January 6, 2020 – Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, which operates its biopharmaceutical business as EMD Serono in the US and Canada, and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) today announced the Phase III JAVELIN Bladder 100 study met its primary endpoint of overall survival (OS) at the planned interim analysis. In this study, patients with previously untreated locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma (UC) whose disease did not progress on induction chemotherapy and who were randomized to receive first-line maintenance therapy with BAVENCIO® (avelumab)* and best supportive care (BSC) lived significantly longer than those who received BSC only. A statistically significant improvement in OS was demonstrated in the BAVENCIO arm in each of the co-primary populations: all randomized patients and patients with PD-L1–positive tumors. The safety profile for BAVENCIO in the trial was consistent with that in the JAVELIN monotherapy clinical development program. The results of the study will be submitted for presentation at an upcoming medical congress and shared with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other health authorities.

“BAVENCIO is the first immunotherapy to demonstrate in a clinical trial a statistically significant improvement in overall survival as a first-line treatment for patients with advanced urothelial carcinoma,” said Chris Boshoff, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Development Officer, Oncology, Pfizer Global Product Development. “These latest positive data from the JAVELIN clinical development program add to the body of evidence for BAVENCIO in the treatment of genitourinary cancers, and we look forward to discussing these results with health authorities.”

UC accounts for about 90% of all bladder cancer.1 When bladder cancer is metastatic, the five-year survival rate is 5%.2 Combination chemotherapy is currently the first-line standard of care for patients with advanced disease, but despite high initial response rates, durable and complete responses following first-line chemotherapy are uncommon, and most patients will ultimately experience disease progression within nine months after initiation of treatment.3,4

“Our unique maintenance approach with BAVENCIO has significantly prolonged survival for patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma in this trial,” said Luciano Rossetti, M.D., Executive Vice President, Head of Global R&D for the Biopharma business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. “We believe this approach could become part of routine clinical practice, as these results are a major advance on the existing standard of care.” 

In 2017, the FDA approved BAVENCIO for the treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma 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. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response and duration of response. JAVELIN Bladder 100 is the confirmatory study for the conversion to full approval.

*BAVENCIO is under clinical investigation for the first-line maintenance treatment of advanced UC. There is no guarantee that BAVENCIO will be approved for first-line maintenance treatment of UC by any health authority worldwide.

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 whose disease did not progress after completion of first-line platinum-containing chemotherapy. A total of 700 patients whose disease had not progressed after induction chemotherapy as per RECIST v1.1 were randomly assigned to receive either BAVENCIO plus BSC or BSC alone. The primary endpoint is OS in co-primary populations of all patients and patients with PD-L1-positive tumors. Secondary endpoints include progression-free survival, anti-tumor activity, safety, pharmacokinetics, immunogenicity, predictive biomarkers and patient-reported outcomes in the co-primary populations.

About Urothelial Carcinoma

Bladder cancer is the tenth most common cancer worldwide.5 In 2018, there were over half a million new cases of bladder cancer diagnosed, with around 200,000 deaths from the disease globally.5 UC accounts for about 90% of all bladder cancers.6 This subtype becomes harder to treat as it advances, spreading through the layers of the bladder wall.7 For patients with metastatic bladder cancer, the five-year survival rate is 5%.2 Given the poor prognosis for patients with advanced bladder cancer whose disease progresses after first-line chemotherapy, there is an urgent need for additional treatment options that improve overall survival.8

About the JAVELIN Clinical Development Program

The clinical development program for BAVENCIO, known as JAVELIN, involves more than 10,000 patients evaluated across more than 15 different tumor types. In addition to urothelial carcinoma, these tumor types include head and neck cancer, Merkel cell carcinoma, non-small cell lung cancer and renal cell carcinoma.

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.9-11 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) 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 (i) adults and pediatric patients 12 years and older with metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma (mMCC) and (ii) patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma (mUC) 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. These indications are approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and duration of response. Continued approval for these indications may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trials. 

Avelumab is currently approved for patients with MCC in 50 countries globally, with the majority of these approvals in a broad indication that is not limited to a specific line of treatment.

BAVENCIO Important Safety Information from the US FDA-Approved Label

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 moderate (Grade 2) and permanently discontinue for severe (Grade 3), life-threatening (Grade 4), or recurrent moderate (Grade 2) pneumonitis. Pneumonitis occurred in 1.2% of patients, including one (0.1%) patient with Grade 5, one (0.1%) with Grade 4, and five (0.3%) with Grade 3.

BAVENCIO can cause hepatotoxicity and immune-mediated hepatitis, including fatal cases. Monitor patients for abnormal liver tests prior to and periodically during treatment. Administer corticosteroids for Grade 2 or greater hepatitis. Withhold BAVENCIO for moderate (Grade 2) immune-mediated hepatitis until resolution and permanently discontinue for severe (Grade 3) or life-threatening (Grade 4) immune-mediated hepatitis. Immune-mediated hepatitis occurred with BAVENCIO as a single agent in 0.9% of patients, including two (0.1%) patients with Grade 5, and 11 (0.6%) with Grade 3.

BAVENCIO in combination with axitinib can cause hepatotoxicity with higher than expected frequencies of Grade 3 and 4 alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) elevation. Consider more frequent monitoring of liver enzymes as compared to when the drugs are used as monotherapy. Withhold BAVENCIO and axitinib for moderate (Grade 2) hepatotoxicity and permanently discontinue the combination for severe or life-threatening (Grade 3 or 4) hepatotoxicity. Administer corticosteroids as needed. In patients treated with BAVENCIO in combination with axitinib, Grades 3 and 4 increased ALT and AST occurred in 9% and 7% of patients, respectively, and immune-mediated hepatitis occurred in 7% of patients, including 4.9% with Grade 3 or 4.

BAVENCIO can cause immune-mediated colitis. Monitor patients for signs and symptoms of colitis. Administer corticosteroids for Grade 2 or greater colitis. Withhold BAVENCIO until resolution for moderate or severe (Grade 2 or 3) colitis until resolution. Permanently discontinue for life-threatening (Grade 4) or recurrent (Grade 3) colitis upon reinitiation of BAVENCIO. Immune-mediated colitis occurred in 1.5% of patients, including seven (0.4%) with Grade 3.

BAVENCIO can cause immune-mediated endocrinopathies, including adrenal insufficiency, thyroid disorders, and type 1 diabetes mellitus.

Monitor patients for signs and symptoms of adrenal insufficiency during and after treatment, and administer corticosteroids as appropriate. Withhold BAVENCIO for severe (Grade 3) or life-threatening (Grade 4) adrenal insufficiency. Adrenal insufficiency was reported in 0.5% of patients, including one (0.1%) with Grade 3.

Thyroid disorders can occur at any time during treatment. Monitor patients for changes in thyroid function at the start of treatment, periodically during treatment, and as indicated based on clinical evaluation. Manage hypothyroidism with hormone replacement therapy and hyperthyroidism with medical management. Withhold BAVENCIO for severe (Grade 3) or life-threatening (Grade 4) thyroid disorders. Thyroid disorders, including hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and thyroiditis, were reported in 6% of patients, including three (0.2%) with Grade 3.

Type 1 diabetes mellitus including diabetic ketoacidosis: Monitor patients for hyperglycemia or other signs and symptoms of diabetes. Withhold BAVENCIO and administer antihyperglycemics or insulin in patients with severe or life-threatening (Grade ≥3) hyperglycemia, and resume treatment when metabolic control is achieved. Type 1 diabetes mellitus without an alternative etiology occurred in 0.1% of patients, including two cases of Grade 3 hyperglycemia.

BAVENCIO can cause immune-mediated nephritis and renal dysfunction. Monitor patients for elevated serum creatinine prior to and periodically during treatment. Administer corticosteroids for Grade 2 or greater nephritis. Withhold BAVENCIO for moderate (Grade 2) or severe (Grade 3) nephritis until resolution to Grade 1 or lower. Permanently discontinue BAVENCIO for life-threatening (Grade 4) nephritis. Immune-mediated nephritis occurred in 0.1% of patients.

BAVENCIO can result in other severe and fatal immune-mediated adverse reactions involving any organ system during treatment or after treatment discontinuation. For suspected immune-mediated adverse reactions, evaluate to confirm or rule out an immune-mediated adverse reaction and to exclude other causes. Depending on the severity of the adverse reaction, withhold or permanently discontinue BAVENCIO, administer high-dose corticosteroids, and initiate hormone replacement therapy, if appropriate. Resume BAVENCIO when the immune-mediated adverse reaction remains at Grade 1 or lower following a corticosteroid taper. Permanently discontinue BAVENCIO for any severe (Grade 3) immune-mediated adverse reaction that recurs and for any life-threatening (Grade 4) immune-mediated adverse reaction. The following clinically significant immune-mediated adverse reactions occurred in less than 1% of 1738 patients treated with BAVENCIO as a single agent or in 489 patients who received BAVENCIO in combination with axitinib: myocarditis including fatal cases, pancreatitis including fatal cases, myositis, psoriasis, arthritis, exfoliative dermatitis, erythema multiforme, pemphigoid, hypopituitarism, uveitis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, and systemic inflammatory response.

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 mild (Grade 1) or moderate (Grade 2) infusion-related reactions. Permanently discontinue BAVENCIO for severe (Grade 3) or life-threatening (Grade 4) infusion-related reactions. Infusion-related reactions occurred in 25% of patients, including three (0.2%) patients with Grade 4 and nine (0.5%) with Grade 3.

BAVENCIO in combination with axitinib 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. Discontinue BAVENCIO and axitinib for Grade 3-4 cardiovascular events. MACE occurred in 7% of patients with advanced RCC treated with BAVENCIO in combination with axitinib compared to 3.4% treated with sunitinib. 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%).

The most common adverse reactions (all grades, ≥ 20%) in patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma (UC) were fatigue (41%), infusion-related reaction (30%), musculoskeletal pain (25%), nausea (24%), decreased appetite/hypophagia (21%), and urinary tract infection (21%).

Selected laboratory abnormalities (Grades 3-4, ≥ 3%) in patients with locally advanced or metastatic UC were hyponatremia (16%), increased gamma-glutamyltransferase (12%), lymphopenia (11%), hyperglycemia (9%), increased alkaline phosphatase (7%), anemia (6%), increased lipase (6%), hyperkalemia (3%), and increased aspartate aminotransferase (3%).

Fatal adverse reactions occurred in 1.8% of patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC) receiving BAVENCIO in combination with axitinib. 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 axitinib (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 axitinib (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%).

Please see full US Prescribing Information and Medication Guide available at http://www.BAVENCIO.com.

References

1.     Cancer.net. Bladder Cancer: Introduction. https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/bladder-cancer/introduction. Accessed December 2019.

2.     SEER. Cancer Stat Facts: Bladder Cancer. https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/urinb.html. Accessed December 2019.

3.     Bukhari N, et al. Update on the Treatment of Metastatic Urothelial Carcinoma. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6011065/. Accessed December 2019.

4.     Von der Maase H, et al. Comparing Gemcitabine Plus Cisplatin, With Methotrexate, Vinblastine, Doxorubicin, Plus Cisplatin in patients With Bladder Cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2005;23(21):4602-4608.

5.     Bray F, et al. Global cancer statistics 2018: GLOBOCAN estimates of incidence and mortality worldwide for 36 cancers in 185 countries. CA: A Cancer Journal. 2018;68(6):394-424.   

6.     Cancer.net. Bladder Cancer: Introduction. https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/bladder-cancer/introduction. Accessed December 2019.

7.     American Cancer Society. What is Bladder Cancer? https://www.cancer.org/cancer/bladder-cancer/about/what-is-bladder-cancer.html. Accessed December 2019.

8.     Dietrich B, Srinivas S. Urothelial carcinoma: the evolving landscape of immunotherapy for patients with advanced disease. Res Rep Urol. 2018;10:7-16.

9.     Dolan DE, Gupta S. PD-1 pathway inhibitors: changing the landscape of cancer immunotherapy. Cancer Control. 2014;21(3):231-237.

10.   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.

11.   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.

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