MSD has unveiled further data from a trial showing that a combination of Keytruda and chemotherapy significantly improved overall survival in patients with metastatic non-squamous non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

According to results of the KEYNOTE-189 trial, presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting, first-line use of Keytruda (pembrolizumab) in combination with pemetrexed (Lilly’s Alimta) and cisplatin or carboplatin slashed the risk of death by 51 percent compared with chemotherapy alone.

An overall survival benefit was observed regardless of PD-L1 expression, the firm noted.

“There is good scientific rationale for combining Keytruda with pemetrexed and platinum chemotherapy, and these clinical data now suggest this combination as a new standard of care for the first-line treatment of these nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer patients,” said Dr Leena Gandhi, director of thoracic medical oncology at NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center and lead author of The New England Journal of Medicine paper.

“The results of this trial have the potential to change the treatment paradigm for patients with non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer in the first-line setting, including patients whose tumors are either PD-L1 negative or are untested,” added Dr Roger Perlmutter, president, Merck Research Laboratories.

MSD announced in January that the trial has met its co-primary endpoints of showing a benefit to overall survival and progression-free survival in patients taking the combination.