Merck’s Keytruda Study in Bladder Cancer Stopped as Goal Met

(Bloomberg) -- Merck & Co.’s study of its Keytruda drug in patients with previously treated bladder cancer was stopped on the recommendation of a panel after hitting its primary goal in overall survival.

Keytruda was superior compared to standard chemotherapy in the final-stage trial of 542 patients with advanced urothelial cancer, Merck said Friday in a statement, without giving details from the study. The company said it will provide final data results at an upcoming medical meeting.

Merck’s drug is one of several, including Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.’s Opdivo, that harness the patient’s own immune system to fight hard-to-treat cancers, and it’s already approved to treat cancers in the lung, head, neck and skin. The Merck drug would go up against Roche Holding AG’s Tecentriq, which was approved in May for patients with advanced bladder cancer.

Urothelial carcinoma is the most common type of bladder cancer. About 430,000 people worldwide were diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2012, and 165,000 died from the disease, according to Merck.