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Merck and Pfizer Provide Update on Phase III JAVELIN Gastric 100 Trial

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DARMSTADT, Germany , and NEW YORK , Nov. 8, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Merck and Pfizer Inc. (PFE) today announced topline results of the Phase III JAVELIN Gastric 100 study evaluating avelumab as first-line maintenance therapy following induction chemotherapy in patients with unresectable, locally advanced or metastatic HER2-negative gastric or gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) cancer versus continuation of chemotherapy or best supportive care. While the study showed clinical activity for avelumab in this setting, it did not meet the primary endpoints of superior overall survival compared with the standard of care in the overall intent-to-treat population (n=499; HR: 0.91; 95% CI: 0.74, 1.11) or the PD-L1–positive population (n=54; HR: 1.13; 95% CI: 0.57, 2.23).

"Advanced gastric cancer is a hard-to-treat tumor, and there is a key unmet need for additional treatments. Additionally, it is rarely immunogenic, and to date no immune checkpoint inhibitor has demonstrated superiority to the current standard of care with chemotherapy," said Prof. Dr. Markus Möhler, Head of GI Oncology, Senior Physician Gastroenterology & Endosonography, Johannes-Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany and coordinating investigator. "As we have yet to define the ideal strategy for incorporating immunotherapy in the continuum of care, the results of JAVELIN Gastric 100 will provide essential information in advancing our understanding and potential treatment options of this challenging disease."

No new safety signals were observed, and the safety profile for avelumab in this trial was consistent with that observed in the overall JAVELIN clinical development program. A detailed analysis of the Phase III JAVELIN Gastric 100 study is being conducted to better understand the results, and findings will be shared with the scientific community.

About JAVELIN Gastric 100
JAVELIN Gastric 100 (NCT02625610) is a Phase III, multicenter, randomized, open-label trial investigating maintenance therapy with avelumab in patients with HER2-negative advanced (unresectable, locally advanced or metastatic) adenocarcinoma of the stomach or of the gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) who have not yet received chemotherapy for the treatment of metastatic or locally advanced disease, in an overall population unselected for PD-L1 expression. A total of 805 patients were enrolled to receive induction (initial) chemotherapy with oxaliplatin and either 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) or capecitabine for 12 weeks. Of these, 499 patients whose disease had not progressed at the end of the 12 weeks of chemotherapy treatment were randomly assigned to receive either avelumab as a maintenance treatment or continuation of the same chemotherapy regimen until disease progression. Patients unfit for further chemotherapy received best supportive care. The primary endpoints are overall survival in all randomized patients or in the PD-L1+ population (≥1%).

About Gastric Cancer
Globally, gastric cancer is the third most common cause of cancer death.1 The standard first-line option for patients with HER2-negative disease is chemotherapy,2 yet patients with advanced disease can experience resistance, leading to a poor prognosis.3 Over the past decade, there have been limited advancements in treatment,4 and the median overall survival for patients at the advanced stage is less than one year.5 In recognition of the significant need, the Merck-Pfizer alliance initiated a Phase III trial to assess a novel first-line maintenance approach in advanced gastric cancer, to understand the potential of checkpoint inhibitor treatment following confirmed response or stabilization of disease on induction chemotherapy.

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 gastric/gastroesophageal junction cancer, these tumor types include head and neck cancer, Merkel cell carcinoma, non-small cell lung cancer, renal cell and urothelial 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.6-8 In November 2014 , Merck and Pfizer announced a strategic alliance to co-develop and co-commercialize BAVENCIO. 

BAVENCIO Approved Indications
The European Commission has authorized the use of BAVENCIO in combination with axitinib for the first-line treatment of adult patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC). In September 2017 , the European Commission granted conditional marketing authorization for BAVENCIO as a monotherapy for the treatment of adult patients with metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC).

In the US, BAVENCIO in combination with axitinib is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Additionally, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted accelerated approval for avelumab (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.

BAVENCIO 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 Safety Profile from the EU Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC)
The special warnings and precautions for use for BAVENCIO monotherapy include infusion-related reactions, as well as immune-related adverse reactions that include pneumonitis and hepatitis (including fatal cases), colitis, pancreatitis (including fatal cases), myocarditis (including fatal cases), endocrinopathies, nephritis and renal dysfunction, and other immune-related adverse reactions. The special warnings and precautions for use for BAVENCIO in combination with axitinib include hepatotoxicity.

The SmPC list of the most common adverse reactions with BAVENCIO monotherapy in patients with solid tumors includes fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, decreased appetite, constipation, infusion-related reactions, weight decreased and vomiting. The list of most common adverse reactions with BAVENCIO in combination with axitinib includes diarrhea, hypertension, fatigue, nausea, dysphonia, decreased appetite, hypothyroidism, cough, headache, dyspnea, and arthralgia.

About Merck-Pfizer Alliance
Immuno-oncology is a top priority for Merck and Pfizer. The global strategic alliance between Merck and Pfizer enables the companies to benefit from each other's strengths and capabilities and further explore the therapeutic potential of BAVENCIO, an anti-PD-L1 antibody initially discovered and developed by Merck. The immuno-oncology alliance is jointly developing and commercializing BAVENCIO. The alliance is focused on developing high-priority international clinical programs to investigate BAVENCIO as a monotherapy as well as combination regimens, and is striving to find new ways to treat cancer.

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About Merck
Merck, a leading science and technology company, operates across healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 56,000 employees work to make a positive difference to millions of people's lives every day by creating more joyful and sustainable ways to live. From advancing gene editing technologies and discovering unique ways to treat the most challenging diseases to enabling the intelligence of devices – Merck is everywhere. In 2018, Merck generated sales of € 14.8 billion in 66 countries.

Scientific exploration and responsible entrepreneurship have been key to Merck's technological and scientific advances. This is how Merck has thrived since its founding in 1668. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed company. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada , where the business sectors of Merck operate as EMD Serono in healthcare, MilliporeSigma in life science, and EMD Performance Materials.

Pfizer Inc.: Breakthroughs that change patients' lives
At Pfizer, we apply science and our global resources to bring therapies to people that extend and significantly improve their lives. We strive to set the standard for quality, safety and value in the discovery, development and manufacture of health care products, including innovative medicines and vaccines. Every day, Pfizer colleagues work across developed and emerging markets to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time. Consistent with our responsibility as one of the world's premier innovative biopharmaceutical companies, we collaborate with health care providers, governments and local communities to support and expand access to reliable, affordable health care around the world. For more than 150 years, we have worked to make a difference for all who rely on us. We routinely post information that may be important to investors on our website at www.pfizer.com. In addition, to learn more, please visit us on www.pfizer.com and follow us on Twitter at @Pfizer and @Pfizer_News, LinkedIn, YouTube and like us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Pfizer.

Pfizer Disclosure Notice
The information contained in this release is as of November 8, 2019 . Pfizer assumes no obligation to update forward-looking statements contained in this release as the result of new information or future events or developments.

This release contains forward-looking information about BAVENCIO (avelumab), including results of the Phase III JAVELIN Gastric 100 study evaluating avelumab as first-line maintenance therapy following induction chemotherapy in patients with unresectable, locally advanced or metastatic HER2-negative gastric or gastroesophageal junction cancer, the alliance between Merck and Pfizer involving BAVENCIO and clinical development plans, including their potential benefits, that involves substantial risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such statements. Risks and uncertainties include, among other things, uncertainties regarding the commercial success of BAVENCIO, the uncertainties inherent in research and development, including the ability to meet anticipated clinical endpoints, commencement and/or completion dates for our clinical trials, regulatory submission dates, regulatory approval dates and/or launch dates, as well as the possibility of unfavorable new clinical data and further analyses of existing clinical data; the risk that clinical trial data are subject to differing interpretations and assessments by regulatory authorities; whether regulatory authorities will be satisfied with the design of and results from our clinical studies; whether and when any drug applications may be filed for any potential indications for BAVENCIO or combination therapies; whether and when regulatory authorities in any jurisdictions where any such applications are pending or may be submitted for BAVENCIO or combination therapies may approve any such applications, which will depend on myriad factors, including making a determination as to whether the product's benefits outweigh its known risks and determination of the product's efficacy, and, if approved, whether they will be commercially successful; decisions by regulatory authorities impacting labeling, manufacturing processes, safety and/or other matters that could affect the availability or commercial potential of BAVENCIO or combination therapies; and competitive developments.

A further description of risks and uncertainties can be found in Pfizer's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018 , and in its subsequent reports on Form 10-Q, including in the sections thereof captioned "Risk Factors" and "Forward-Looking Information and Factors That May Affect Future Results", as well as in its subsequent reports on Form 8-K, all of which are filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and available at www.sec.gov and www.pfizer.com.

References

  1. Bray F, Ferlay J, Soerjomataram I, et al. Global cancer statistics 2018: GLOBOCAN estimates of incidence and mortality worldwide for 36 cancers in 185 countries. CA Cancer J Clin. 2018;0:1–31.
  2. Digklia A, et al. Advanced gastric cancer: Current treatment landscape and future perspectives. World J Gastroenterol. 2016;22(8):2403-2414.
  3. Shi WJ, Gao JB. Molecular mechanisms of chemoresistance in gastric cancer. World J Gastrointest Oncol. 2016;8(9):673-81. 
  4. Apicella M, et al. Targeted therapies for gastric cancer: failures and hopes from clinical trials. Oncotarget. 2017;8(34):57654-57669.
  5. Shah MA. Update on metastatic gastric and esophageal cancers. J Clin Oncol. 2015;33:1760–9.
  6. Dolan DE, Gupta S. PD-1 pathway inhibitors: changing the landscape of cancer immunotherapy. Cancer Control. 2014;21(3):231-237.
  7. 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.
  8. 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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SOURCE Merck