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Merck's Keytruda, standard therapy combination proves effective in phase 2 trial

Merck & Co. Inc. reported positive results from a phase 2 trial evaluating Keytruda in combination with standard therapy as neoadjuvant treatment for patients with locally advanced triple-negative breast cancer or hormone receptor-positive/human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-negative breast cancer.

The primary endpoint of the study was to identify whether the combination of certain therapies increases the probability of pathologic complete response rate in the breast and the lymph nodes at the time of surgery. Pathologic complete response means that no active cancer cells are present at the time of surgery.

Based on the data, the addition of Keytruda increased the estimated pathologic complete response rate by 60% in patients with triple-negative breast cancer versus the 20% in standard therapy.

Further, the combination resulted in a 34% estimated pathologic complete response rate, compared to 13% in standard therapy for the group of patients with hormone receptor-positive/human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-negative breast cancer.

Merck's Keytruda is indicated for the treatment of melanoma, lung cancer, head and neck cancer, classical Hodgkin lymphoma, urothelial carcinoma and microsatellite instability-high cancer.