Merck KGaA and Pfizer's Avelumab Fails to Meet Endpoint in Gastric Cancer Trial

Merck KGaA (MRK.XE) and Pfizer Inc. (PFE) said on Tuesday that avelumab, a cancer immunotherapy, failed to meet the primary objective of a phase 3 trial in patients with certain gastric cancers.

The trial assessed avelumab as a third-line treatment in patients with gastric or gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinoma whose disease had progressed following two prior treatment regimens.

The drug did not meet its primary endpoint--superior overall survival--meaning that patients taking avelumab didn't demonstrate superior overall survival compared to those on chemotherapy, the companies said.

Avelumab, which is marketed as Bavencio, was granted accelerated approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare and aggressive skin cancer, and urothelial carcinoma, type of bladder cancer.

Merck KGaA and Pfizer are co-developing and co-commercializing avelumab.

"Gastric cancer is a leading cause of cancer death globally with clear unmet needs, and the results provide important insights as we continue to investigate the role of avelumab for the treatment of gastric cancer," said Chris Boshoff, senior vice president and head of immuno-oncology, early development and translational oncology at Pfizer.

Write to Sonia Amaral Rohter at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 28, 2017 09:01 ET (14:01 GMT)