Merck lung cancer drug Keytruda plus chemo gets FDA approval for NSCLC

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Merck’s cancer immunotherapy Keytruda (pembrolizumab) in combination with chemotherapy has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a first-line option for advanced lung cancer treatment in patients who didn’t take any medicines before for the disease.

The Keytruda chemotherapy combination has been approved to treat metastatic non-squamous non small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), irrespective of PD-L1 expression in the patient. The chemotherapy to be used in combination with Merck lung cancer drug Keytruda is the commonly used chemotherapy regimen of pemetrexed (brand name Alimta) and carboplatin (pem/carbo).

Commenting on the Merck lung cancer drug Keytruda FDA approval, Dr. Corey Langer, director of thoracic oncology and professor of medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, said: “This approval marks an important milestone in the treatment of lung cancer. Now, pembrolizumab in combination with pemetrexed and carboplatin can be prescribed in the first-line setting for patients with metastatic nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer, irrespective of PD-L1 expression.

“Physicians should continue to use each patient’s individual characteristics – including biomarker status, histology, and other clinical factors – to determine the best treatment plan for each person.”

Merck lung cancer drug Keytruda

Merck lung cancer drug Keytruda. Photo courtesy of Merck & Co., Inc.

Merck’s lung cancer drug Keytruda is now the only anti-PD-1 to be approved in the first-line setting as monotherapy and combination therapy for suitable patients suffering from metastatic NSCLC.

An anti-PD-1 therapy, Keytruda works by improving the ability of the immune system in detecting and fighting tumor cells. Merck lung cancer drug Keytruda is a humanized monoclonal antibody that inhibits the interaction of PD-1 with its ligands, PD-L1 and PD-L2. Follow which, T lymphocytes are activated by the action which is likely to affect tumor cells as well as healthy cells.

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