Sunday , May 16 2021

Merck drug Keytruda succeeds in late stage esophageal cancer trial

REUTERS: Merck & Cos Blockbuster Drug Keytruda met the main objective of a later-stage trial study that tested treatment in patients with cancer in the digestive tract, says the American drug maker on Wednesday.

Keytruda is among drug classes called PD-1 inhibitors, Merck's top selling drugs and has already been approved to treat multiple forms of cancer, including skin and lung cancer.

PD-1 or PD-L1 inhibitors work by blocking a tumor mechanism that allows them to avoid detection of cancerous cells.

Keytruda, compared to chemotherapy, made it possible for some patients with esophageal cancer to live longer, helping the drug to meet the main goals of the late study, Merck said.

"This marks the sixth tumor type in which Keytruda has shown a survival benefit and represents the first time an anti-PD-1 therapy has achieved overall survival for this patient population," said Roy Baynes, chief physician at Merck Research Laboratories.

Esophageal cancer is the seventh most common diagnosis of cancer in the world, says the company.

Merck said that the trial results would be presented at an upcoming medical meeting.

(Reporting of Manas Mishra and Tamara Mathias in Bengaluru; Editing of Sai Sachin Ravikumar)

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