Merck Lung Cancer Drug Shows Promise Combined with Chemo

Merck Lung Cancer Drug Shows Promise Combined with Chemo

Last fall, Merck & Company (Merck & Co) revealed new clinical data that showed its immunotherapy drug Keytruda was showing positive benefits in lung cancer patients who were previously untreated, according to a FoxNews report. Keytruda, the study showed, was given to patients either on its on or in combination with chemotherapy. The American Cancer Society (ACS) notes that lung cancer is the second most common lung cancer diagnosis for men and women, not counting skin cancer. This translates to 14% of all newly diagnosed cancers being lung cancer.

Immunotherapy Keytruda

When given by itself, Keytruda reduced the risk of disease progression by half and eliminated disease-related deaths by 40% when compared to patients who were undergoing chemotherapy alone. Patients in the study were preselected and had tumors that had been tested using a biomarker. When Keytruda was administered in combination with two older chemotherapy drugs for non-selected patients, the studies showed the therapy was almost twice as likely to shrink tumors when compared to chemotherapy alone.

Other pharmaceutical drugs had attempt to get these results. A similar drug from Roche called Tecentriq also had positive and broad results during clinical trials and, therefore, will likely be used as an alternative option for patients who have received prior treatment. But Bristol-Myers Squibb, a rival drug manufacturer, unsuccessfully attempted a catch-all approach with Opdivo drug. Opdivo failed to help previously treated patients during its clinical trials.

Immunotherapy, according to, is a type of treatment that aims to boost the immune system to fight the cancer. This treatment uses substances that are either made in the laboratory or are naturally occurring in the body to improve or restore a patient’s immune system. Successful immunotherapy may have any of the following results:

  • Slowing or stopping the growth of cancer cells,
  • Assisting the immune system in working better to fight and destroy cancer cells, or
  • Prohibiting cancer from spreading into other parts of the body.

Early FDA Approval

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Merck’s Keytruda two months ahead of schedule, making it the only drug cleared for first-line treatment according to Reuters. Immunotherapy drugs, such as Keytruda, are also used in melanoma, Hodgkin lymphoma, and cancers that affect the kidneys, bladder, head, and neck. But lung cancer, the most highly diagnosed type of cancer with a death toll of 1.6 million, is the greatest potential market for the drug. Keytruda works by speeding up a person’s immune system and targets patients with a high level of a particular protein known as PD-L1, making them more receptive to immunotherapy.

Lung Cancer Attorneys

Cancer can be a deadly disease that can cause devastation medically, emotionally, and financially for someone diagnosed and his or her loved ones. If you or someone you care about has been affected by lung cancer, contact a seasoned trial attorney right away to learn about your rights under the law. The seasoned trial lawyers at Napoli Shkolnik, PLLC have decades of experience representing individuals who have fallen ill due to the fault of another. Call (212) 397-1000 or click here today to schedule your initial case evaluation.

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