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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

MSD’s Keytruda registered for fifteenth indication in Australia – RCC

Health Industry Hub | June 22, 2020 |

Pharma News: Australians with a common form of kidney cancer, advanced renal cell carcinoma, can now count immuno-oncology therapy KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab), as a treatment option, when combined with another cancer medicine from the selective tyrosine kinase inhibitor class.

MSD’s cancer treatment KEYTRUDA has been listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) for use in combination with Inlyta (axitinib), for the first-line treatment of patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC).

This registration is the fifteenth (15th) indication for KEYTRUDA in Australia and reinforces MSD’s commitment in the area of oncology, and the importance of KEYTRUDA as a treatment option for eligible Australian cancer patients.

This latest indication for advanced renal cell carcinoma is a significant step forward for the 3,800 Australian patients that are diagnosed with this disease each year, KEYTRUDA is a cancer immunotherapy that works to reactivate the immune system to attack tumour cells by blocking a specific cancer cell protein (known as PD-1 or programmed cell death protein), which left unchecked allows cancer cells to pass undetected by the body’s natural defences.

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Renal cell carcinoma accounts for approximately 90% of all kidney cancers, and approximately one in three renal cell carcinomas are diagnosed at an advanced stage. Kidney cancer is estimated to be the ninth most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia, and approximately 1,000 Australians die each year from this form of cancer.   

Men are almost twice as likely to develop kidney cancer than women, and risk factors include high blood pressure, smoking, obesity and a family history of kidney cancer.

Associate Professor Andrew Weickhardt, Medical Oncologist at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, specialises in kidney cancer “The registration of Keytruda in combination with axitinib for advanced renal cell carcinoma will provide Australian patients and clinicians with another treatment option for this difficult-to-treat cancer.

“Combining therapies together to treat cancer is becoming more common in the field of oncology. The activity of this combination means that there is another treatment available for eligible patients and provides another option for oncologists to consider in the management of their patients with RCC,” continued Associate Professor Weickhardt.

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MSD Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand, Mr Michael Azrak, said the 15th indication for KEYTRUDA is a significant oncology milestone.

“We are committed to bringing our immuno-oncology therapy KEYTRUDA to as many eligible Australian patients as possible. Oncology combination therapies have the potential to increase treatment options for Australian patients living with cancer.

“It is now crucial that the Australian Government works collaboratively with industry to develop and implement suitable frameworks to enable timely and affordable access to combination therapies for Australian patients,” said Mr Azrak.


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