Merck Says Keytruda Updated Survival Data Shows 19% Reduction in Risk of Death Vs. Standard Treatment

Merck (MRK) said updated survival data from a study with its Keytruda cancer immunotherapy drug showed a 19% reduction in the risk of death over standard treatment in patients with head and neck squamous cell cancer that had spread to other organs.

The company previously reported that the trial didn’t meet its primary objective of overall survival.

“These data, including progression-free survival and overall response rate, show the activity and efficacy of pembrolizumab in this disease, and are consistent with prior studies of pembrolizumab in recurrent head and neck squamous cell carcinoma,” Ezra Cohen, co-director of the San Diego Center for Precision Immunotherapy, at the University of California in San Diego.

The results strengthen the rationale for further studies and expansion into earlier lines of disease, he said.

Merck was up 0.8% in early trading on Monday.

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