The launch of avelumab marks a step-change in the way that mMCC can be treated.
Merck and Pfizer have announced the UK launch of Bavenio (avelumab) solution for infusion 20 mg/mL, as a monotherapy for the treatment of mMCC in adults. Avelumab is the first medicine to be licensed for this rare, aggressive type of skin cancer.
“The licensing of avelumuab in this disease is an advance for patients as it is well tolerated, and active,” commented Professor Ruth Plummer, Consultant Medical Oncologist at the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. “Patients with mMCC are often elderly and find our standard chemotherapy hard going, needing dose reductions or breaks from treatment.”
The incidence of mMCC is so low that it is hard to be accurate; it is thought, however, that there are approximately 50 new cases of mMCC annually in the UK. However, data show that the incidence of MCC is rising possibly due to an ageing population or increased UV exposure. MCC exhibits aggressive clinical features, including frequent lymph node involvement and early metastases. Patients with mMCC have a very poor prognosis, with fewer than half of patients surviving more than one year and fewer than 20% surviving beyond 5 years.
While earlier-stage MCC can be generally managed with surgery and radiotherapy, treatment options for mMCC are severely limited. Until now, there have been no licensed medicines to treat mMCC in the UK. As such, the standard of care for patients with mMCC is to enrol in clinical trials.
The efficacy and safety of avelumab was demonstrated in the JAVELIN Merkel 200 trial, an international, multicentre, single-arm, open-label, Phase II study with two parts (still ongoing):
“We’re really encouraged by the news that avelumab is now licensed for use in the UK,” commented Catherine Bouvier, CEO of the NET Patient Foundation. “Although rare, mMCC is an aggressive cancer with potentially worse outcomes than other types of skin cancer such as melanoma. An effective, well-tolerated treatment option will be welcomed with open arms by patients with mMCC and their families, so we hope that all stakeholders will work in a collaborative way to ensure that patients in the UK now have access to it as quickly as possible.”
“Today is a significant milestone for the Alliance between Merck and Pfizer,” commented Dr Belinda Byrne, Medical Director at Merck, UK. “It demonstrates our commitment to working in partnership to develop new treatment options for patients with hard-to-treat cancers and we are looking forward to exploring future potential monotherapy indications and a diverse range of novel combinations with avelumab.”Read More