In the highly competitive field of cancer immunotherapies, Merck KGaA and Pfizer’s PD-L1 inhibitor Bavencio has struggled to gain market share versus more entrenched competitors. However, feedback from 120 oncologists, who were surveyed for a new Therapy Trends FirstImpact report, supports Bavencio as a new standard of care first-line maintenance treatment for patients with advanced bladder cancer who respond to initial chemotherapy.
Oncologists were surveyed about data from the Phase III JAVELIN Bladder 100 study which was presented at the recent virtual annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Further information about the report is available on request.
These data are expected to form the basis of regulatory applications in the near future, with Bavencio’s prospects also boosted by recent confirmation that the combination of Merck & Co.’s PD-1 inhibitor Keytruda and chemotherapy has failed to prolong overall survival or progression free survival (versus standard of care chemotherapy) in the KEYNOTE-361 study.
Some oncologists said this setback will make them more likely to Bavencio as a maintenance treatment, assuming it is approved by regulators, with a majority of respondents suggesting that future use of Merck KGaA and Pfizer’s immunotherapy will occur in this setting regardless of PD-L1 expression status.
One potential challenge could be the need to overcome off-label use of other PD-(L)1 inhibitors – such as the best-selling brand Keytruda – in the same setting. Willingness among oncologists to go down this route, assuming reimbursement can be secured, is surprisingly high.
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