The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today granted accelerated approval to Keytruda (pembrolizumab) for treatment of patients with advanced or unresectable melanoma who are no longer responding to other drugs.
Melanoma occurs when cancer cells form in skin cells that make the pigment responsible for color in the skin.
Keytruda is the first approved drug that blocks a cellular pathway known as PD-1, which restricts the body’s immune system from attacking melanoma cells. Keytruda is intended for use following treatment with ipilimumab, a type of immunotherapy. For melanoma patients whose tumors express a gene mutation called BRAF V600, Keytruda is intended for use after treatment with ipilimumab and a BRAF inhibitor, a therapy that blocks activity of BRAF gene mutations.
“Keytruda is the sixth new melanoma treatment approved since 2011, a result of promising advances in melanoma research,” said Richard Pazdur, M.D., director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Many of these treatments have different mechanisms of action and bring new options to patients with melanoma.”
According to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated 76,100 Americans will be diagnosed with melanoma and 9,710 will die from the disease this year. Read the full release