EMD Serono, the biopharmaceutical business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany in the US and Canada, and Pfizer Inc. recently announced that the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) adopted a positive opinion recommending approval of BAVENCIO (avelumab) as monotherapy for the first-line maintenance treatment of adult patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma (UC) who are progression-free following platinum-based chemotherapy. The CHMP positive opinion will now be reviewed by the European Commission (EC), with a decision expected in early 2021.
The opinion was based on positive findings from the Phase III JAVELIN Bladder 100 trial, results of which were published in The New England Journal of Medicine in September. BAVENCIO is the only immunotherapy to significantly prolong overall survival (OS) in locally advanced or metastatic UC in the first-line setting in a Phase III trial.
“Patients living with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma in Europe are in urgent need of more treatment options that have the potential to extend their lives,” said Chris Boshoff, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Development Officer, Oncology, Pfizer Global Product Development. “The overall survival results from JAVELIN Bladder100 show the potential benefits of a first-line maintenance approach with BAVENCIO as a significant advancement for patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma.”
Bladder cancer is the tenth most common cancer worldwide. In Europe alone, nearly 200,000 people are diagnosed with bladder cancer each year and more than 60,000 patients die from the disease, despite available treatments. UC, which accounts for about 90% of all bladder cancers, becomes harder to treat as it advances, spreading through the layers of the bladder wall. For patients with advanced UC, the five-year survival rate is 5%.6 About 4% of bladder cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage.7
“BAVENCIO is the only immunotherapy treatment to demonstrate in the first-line setting the ability to help patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma live longer,” said Danny Bar-Zohar, M.D., Global Head of Development for the Biopharma business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. “Now with this positive opinion, we have come to a big step closer to being able to offer a new option that may shift the treatment paradigm for patients in Europe.”
In June 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved BAVENCIO for the maintenance treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic UC that has not progressed with first-line platinum-containing chemotherapy. Additional regulatory applications have been submitted in Japan and other countries.