Not intended for US, Canada and UK-based media
Merck and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) today announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accepted for Priority Review the supplemental Biologics License Application (sBLA) for BAVENCIO(R) (avelumab) in combination with INLYTA(R) (axitinib)* for patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC). The application has been given a target action date in June 2019.
“The combination of BAVENCIO with INLYTA builds on Pfizer’s significant heritage in advancing standards of care for patients with advanced RCC and has the potential to make a meaningful impact for the lives of patients,” said Chris Boshoff, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Development Officer, Oncology, Pfizer Global Product Development. “We look forward to working with the FDA to bring this potential new treatment option to patients as quickly as possible.”
“Our alliance is focused on the development of potential new treatment options for patients with cancers that have high unmet medical needs, including the broad spectrum of people living with advanced RCC,” said Luciano Rossetti, M.D., Executive Vice President, Head of Global Research & Development at the Biopharma business of Merck. “This regulatory milestone, which closely follows the acceptance of our application in Japan, represents an important step forward for science and for patients.”
The submission is based on data from the pivotal Phase III JAVELIN Renal 101 trial, which were presented in a Presidential Symposium at the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) 2018 Congress in Munich. In December 2017, the FDA granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation for BAVENCIO in combination with INLYTA for treatment-nave patients with advanced RCC.
Despite available therapies, the outlook for patients with advanced RCC remains poor.  Approximately 20% to 30% of patients are first diagnosed at the metastatic stage. The five-year survival rate for patients with metastatic RCC is approximately 12%.
The clinical development program for avelumab, known as JAVELIN, involves at least 30 clinical programs and more than 9,000 patients evaluated across more than 15 different tumor types. In addition to RCC, these tumor types include breast, gastric/gastro-esophageal junction, and head and neck cancers, Merkel cell carcinoma, non-small cell lung cancer, and urothelial carcinoma.
*The combination of BAVENCIO and INLYTA is under clinical investigation for advanced RCC, and there is no guarantee this combination will be approved for advanced RCC by any health authority worldwide. In the US, INLYTA is approved as monotherapy for the treatment of advanced RCC after failure of one prior systemic therapy. INLYTA is also approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for use in the EU in adult patients with advanced RCC after failure of prior treatment with SUTENT(R) (sunitinib) or a cytokine.
About Renal Cell Carcinoma
RCC is the most common form of kidney cancer, accounting for about 2% to 3% of all cancers in adults., The most common type of RCC is clear cell carcinoma, accounting for approximately 70% of all cases. In 2019, an estimated 73,820 new cases of kidney cancer will be diagnosed in the US.
About BAVENCIO(R) (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. - BAVENCIO has also been shown to induce NK cell-mediated direct tumor cell lysis via antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) in vitro.- In November 2014, Merck and Pfizer announced a strategic alliance to co-develop and co-commercialize BAVENCIO.
Approved Indications in the US
In the US, the FDA granted accelerated approval for 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 more than 45 countries globally, with the majority of these approvals in a broad indication that is not limited to a specific line of treatment.
Important Safety Information from the US FDA Approved Label
The warnings and precautions for BAVENCIO include immune-mediated adverse reactions (such as pneumonitis, hepatitis, colitis, endocrinopathies, nephritis and renal dysfunction, and other adverse reactions), infusion-related reactions and embryo-fetal toxicity.
Common adverse reactions (reported in at least 20% of patients) in patients treated with avelumab for mMCC and patients with locally advanced or mUC include fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, diarrhea, nausea, infusion-related reaction, peripheral edema, decreased appetite/hypophagia, urinary tract infection and rash.
About INLYTA(R) (axitinib)
INLYTA is an oral therapy that is designed to inhibit tyrosine kinases, including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptors 1, 2 and 3; these receptors can influence tumor growth, vascular angiogenesis and progression of cancer (the spread of tumors). In the US, INLYTA is approved for the treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC) after failure of one prior systemic therapy. INLYTA is also approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for use in the EU in adult patients with advanced RCC after failure of prior treatment with sunitinib or a cytokine.
INLYTA Important Safety Information from the US FDA Approved Label
In the study of advanced RCC after failure of one prior systemic therapy, the warnings and precautions for INLYTA include hypertension, including hypertensive crisis, arterial and venous thrombotic events, hemorrhagic events, cardiac failure, gastrointestinal perforation and fistula, hypothyroidism, wound healing complications, reversible posterior leukoencephalopathy syndrome (RPLS), proteinuria, liver enzyme elevation, hepatic impairment, and fetal harm during pregnancy.
Common adverse events (reported in at least 20% of patients) in patients receiving INLYTA were diarrhea, hypertension, fatigue, decreased appetite, nausea, dysphonia, hand-foot syndrome, weight decreased, vomiting, asthenia, and constipation.