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16.02.2019 – 23:10

Merck Serono GmbH

Pivotal Phase III Data for BAVENCIO® (avelumab) Plus INLYTA® (axitinib) in Advanced Renal Cell Carcinoma Published in the New England Journal of Medicine

York (ots/PRNewswire)

Not intended for US, Canada and UK-based media

- JAVELIN Renal 101 shows significant improvement in progression-free
  survival with a hazard ratio of 0.69 in patients regardless of 
  PD-L1 expression 
- US FDA has granted Priority Review to BAVENCIO plus INLYTA for 
  patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma 
- Data at 2019 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium reinforce consistency 
  of PFS and ORR benefits across broad population of patients with 
  advanced RCC, including all prognostic risk groups, and show 
  increased time to progression on next-line therapy 

Merck and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) today announced the publication of results from an interim analysis of the pivotal JAVELIN Renal 101 trial online in the New England Journal of Medicine.1 The combination of BAVENCIO® (avelumab) and INLYTA® (axitinib)* significantly extended median progression-free survival (PFS) by more than five months compared with SUTENT® (sunitinib) as a first-line treatment for patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC), irrespective of PD-L1 expression (HR: 0.69 [95% CI: 0.56-0.84]; BAVENCIO+INLYTA: 13.8 months [95% CI: 11.1-NE]; SUTENT: 8.4 months [95% CI: 6.9-11.1]; p<0.001). Further, the objective response rate (ORR) was doubled with BAVENCIO+INLYTA versus SUTENT in this population (51.4% [95% CI: 46.6-56.1] vs. 25.7% [95% CI: 21.7-30.0]). The study is continuing for the other primary endpoint of overall survival (OS).

"There is a significant need for patients with advanced RCC to prolong the time until the disease worsens beyond what tyrosine kinase inhibitors alone offer," said Robert J. Motzer, M.D., Jack and Dorothy Byrne Chair in Clinical Oncology, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, US, and principal investigator for JAVELIN Renal 101. "The magnitude and consistency of PFS and response rates seen thus far across populations in the JAVELIN Renal 101 study suggest that many different types of patients, including those with a favorable prognosis, could potentially derive benefit from this particular combination."

Additional data presented today at the 2019 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium reinforce the consistency of the PFS and ORR results across patient subgroups, including patients with favorable, intermediate and poor prognoses as well as those with PD-L1-positive or negative tumors. In subgroup analyses, approximately two-thirds of patients with favorable risk (66% of patients using the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center risk model and 68% with the International Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma Database Consortium risk model) achieved a complete or partial response with BAVENCIO+INLYTA. Median PFS for these patients is not yet estimable. BAVENCIO+INLYTA also extended median PFS2, defined as the time from randomization to disease progression on next-line therapy (HR: 0.56 [95% CI: 0.42-0.74]; NE [95% CI: 19.9-NE] vs. 18.4 months [95% CI: 15.7-23.6]) and increased median duration of response by more than four months (95% CI: 2.9-5.1) in the overall population.

"In this study, the combination of avelumab plus axitinib not only prolonged the initial response in treated patients compared to sunitinib, but for patients who went on to subsequent therapy, reduced the risk of disease progression or death on the next treatment," said Toni K. Choueiri, M.D., Director of the Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology at Dana-Farber, Boston, US, senior and co-corresponding author of JAVELIN Renal 101, and presenter. "Together with the progression-free survival results and objective response rates, these findings show the potential of this combination regimen to be an important new treatment option for patients with advanced RCC."

The Phase III JAVELIN Renal 101 study is evaluating the combination of BAVENCIO+INLYTA compared with SUTENT in 886 patients with previously untreated advanced RCC. BAVENCIO+INLYTA significantly reduced the risk of disease progression or death by 39% in patients with PD-L1-positive (>=1%) tumors, a primary endpoint (HR: 0.61 [95% CI: 0.47-0.79], p<0.001; median PFS: 13.8 months [95% CI: 11.1-NE] vs. 7.2 months [95% CI: 5.7-9.7]). In the overall population, which was tested after achieving statistical significance for the primary endpoint, the risk was reduced by 31%. The confirmed ORR in patients with PD-L1-positive tumors was 55.2% (95% CI: 49.0-61.2) with BAVENCIO+INLYTA vs. 25.5% (95% CI: 20.6-30.9) with SUTENT.

In the BAVENCIO+INLYTA arm, 20.8% of patients received subsequent anticancer drug therapies, compared with 39.2% in the SUTENT arm. In the SUTENT arm, about two-thirds (66.7%) of patients who received subsequent anticancer therapy were known to have been treated with an anti-PD-1/PD-L1 agent.

Adverse events of grade 3 or higher during treatment (treatment-emergent adverse events [TEAEs]) occurred in 71.2% of patients in the BAVENCIO+INLYTA arm and 71.5% in the SUTENT arm; grade 3 or higher TEAEs that occurred in more than 5% of patients receiving the combination were hypertension (25.6%), diarrhea (6.7%), increased alanine aminotransferase level (6.0%) and hand-foot syndrome (5.8%). In the combination arm, 9.0% of patients experienced grade 3 or higher immune-related adverse events. Grade 5 events occurred in three patients in the BAVENCIO+INLYTA arm (myocarditis, necrotizing pancreatitis, sudden death; n=1 each); and in one patient in the SUTENT arm (intestinal perforation). There were fewer discontinuations due to adverse events that occurred during treatment with BAVENCIO+INLYTA, compared with SUTENT (7.6% vs. 13.4%).

On February 11, 2019, the alliance announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) accepted for Priority Review the supplemental Biologics License Application (sBLA) for BAVENCIO in combination with INLYTA for patients with advanced RCC. The application has been given a target action date in June 2019. A supplemental application for BAVENCIO+INLYTA in unresectable or metastatic RCC was submitted in Japan on January 30, 2019. In December 2017, the FDA granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation for BAVENCIO in combination with INLYTA for treatment-naïve patients with advanced RCC. Despite available therapies, the outlook for patients with advanced RCC remains poor.2

*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 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.3,4 The most common type of RCC is clear cell carcinoma, accounting for approximately 70% of all cases.3 In 2019, an estimated 73,820 new cases of kidney cancer will be diagnosed in the US, and approximately 14,770 people will die from the disease.5 Approximately 20% to 30% of patients are first diagnosed at the metastatic stage.6 The five-year survival rate for patients with metastatic RCC is approximately 12%.2

About the JAVELIN Clinical Development Program

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.

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.7-9 BAVENCIO has also been shown to induce NK cell-mediated direct tumor cell lysis via antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) in vitro.9-11 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 BAVENCIO 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® (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.

For more information and full Prescribing Information, visit

About SUTENT® (sunitinib malate)

Sunitinib is a small molecule that inhibits multiple receptor tyrosine kinases, some of which are implicated in tumor growth, pathologic angiogenesis, and metastatic progression of cancer. Sunitinib was evaluated for its inhibitory activity against a variety of kinases (>80 kinases) and was identified as an inhibitor of platelet-derived growth factor receptors (PDGFRalpha and PDGFR?), vascular endothelial growth factor receptors (VEGFR1, VEGFR2 and VEGFR3), stem cell factor receptor (KIT), Fms-like tyrosine kinase-3 (FLT3), colony stimulating factor receptor Type 1 (CSF-1R), and the glial cell-line derived neurotrophic factor receptor (RET).

SUTENT is indicated in the US for the treatment of gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) after disease progression on or intolerance to imatinib mesylate; the treatment of advanced RCC; the adjuvant treatment of adult patients at high risk of recurrent RCC following nephrectomy; and the treatment of progressive, well-differentiated pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (pNET) in patients with unresectable locally advanced or metastatic disease.

SUTENT Important Safety Information from the US FDA-Approved Label

Boxed Warning/Hepatotoxicity has been observed in clinical trials and postmarketing experience. Hepatotoxicity may be severe, and in some cases fatal. Monitor hepatic function and interrupt, reduce, or discontinue dosing as recommended. Fatal liver failure has been observed. Monitor liver function tests before initiation of treatment, during each cycle of treatment, and as clinically indicated. Interrupt SUTENT for Grade 3 or 4 drug-related hepatic adverse reactions and discontinue if there is no resolution. Do not restart SUTENT if patients subsequently experience severe changes in liver function tests or have signs and symptoms of liver failure.

Additional warnings and precautions for SUTENT include cardiovascular events, QT prolongation and Torsades de Pointes, hypertension, hemorrhagic events, tumor lysis syndrome (TLS), thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA), proteinuria, dermatologic toxicities including erythema multiforme, Sevens-Johnson syndrome, and toxic epidermal necrolysis, necrotizing fasciitis, thyroid dysfunction, hypoglycemia, osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ), impaired wound healing, embryo fetal toxicity and impaired reproductive potential, potential harm during lactation, venous thromboembolic events, reversible posterior leukoencephalopathy syndrome (RPLS), and pancreatic function.

Common adverse reactions (reported in at least 20% of patients) in patients receiving SUTENT for treatment-naïve metastatic RCC were diarrhea, fatigue, nausea, anorexia, altered taste, mucositis/stomatitis, pain in extremity/limb discomfort, vomiting, bleeding, all sites, hypertension, dyspepsia, arthralgia, abdominal pain, rash, hand-foot syndrome, back pain, cough, asthenia, dyspnea, skin discoloration/yellow skin, peripheral edema, headache, constipation, dry skin, fever, and hair color changes.

Common adverse reactions (reported in at least 20% of patients) in patients receiving SUTENT for adjuvant treatment of RCC, GIST or pNET - and more commonly than in patients given placebo - were mucositis/stomatitis/oral syndromes, diarrhea, fatigue, asthenia, hand-foot syndrome, hypertension, altered taste, nausea, dyspepsia, abdominal pain, hypothyroidism/TSH increased, rash, hair color changes, anorexia, skin discoloration, constipation, vomiting, bleeding events, epistaxis, and dysgeusia.

For more information and full Prescribing Information, visit

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 51,000 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 - the company is everywhere. In 2017, Merck generated sales of EUR 15.3 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.: Working together for a healthier world®

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. Our global portfolio includes medicines and vaccines as well as many of the world's best-known consumer health care products. 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 In addition, to learn more, please visit us on and follow us on Twitter at @Pfizer and @Pfizer_News, LinkedIn, YouTube and like us on Facebook at

Pfizer Disclosure Notice

The information contained in this release is as of February 16, 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 a potential new indication for BAVENCIO in combination with INLYTA (axitinib) for the treatment of patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma, the alliance between Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, 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 further analyses of existing clinical data and uncertainties regarding whether the other primary endpoint of JAVELIN Renal 101 will be met; risks associated with interim 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 BAVENCIO in combination with INLYTA for the potential new indication in any other jurisdictions or in any jurisdictions for any other potential indications for BAVENCIO or combination therapies; whether and when the pending applications in the U.S. and Japan for BAVENCIO in combination with INLYTA for the potential new indication may be approved and whether and when regulatory authorities in any jurisdictions where any other 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 and/or other matters that could affect the availability or commercial potential of BAVENCIO or combination therapies, including BAVENCIO in combination with INLYTA for the potential new indication; 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, 2017, 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 and


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