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Merck to Highlight Data at ESMO 2022 with Potential for Transformative Impact on Cancer Patients


Merck, a leading science and technology company, today announced the latest research from the Company’s oncology portfolio and pipeline to be presented at this year’s European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) Annual Meeting, September 9-13, 2022. A total of 29 abstracts, including 5 late-breaking oral presentations and 2 additional mini-oral presentations, will feature data from company- and investigator-sponsored studies across six approved or investigational medicines in multiple tumor types.

“Our ESMO 2022 data will highlight the strong potential of our innovative pipeline for patients with cancers with significant unmet needs,” said Victoria Zazulina, M.D., Head of Development Unit, Oncology, for the Healthcare business of Merck. “From our IAP inhibitor xevinapant, studied in a curative setting in locally advanced head and neck cancer; through to new data in NSCLC patients with MET amplification and EGFR mutations; to our potentially best-in-class oral ATR inhibitor; we are focused on unlocking novel mechanisms of action that exploit the vulnerabilities of cancer.”

The company’s late-breaking data at the congress featurefive-year overall survival (OS) results from a Phase II study of the IAP (Inhibitor of Apoptosis Protein) inhibitor xevinapant in patients with unresected locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck [Mini Oral #LBA33]. Patients who received xevinapant pluschemoradiotherapy (CRT) had improved efficacy outcomes compared with those who received placebo with CRT.

Additional late-breaking results include initial results from the Phase II INSIGHT 2 trial of TEPMETKO® (tepotinib) plus osimertinib in the treatment of patients with EGFR-mutant non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with MET amplification (METamp) after progression on first-line treatment with osimertinib [Proffered Paper #LBA52]. The confirmed overall response rate (ORR) was 54.5% (95% CI, 32.2, 75.6) in 22 patients with METamp detected by FISH (MET GCN ≥5 and/or MET/CEP7 ≥2) in tissue biopsy who received tepotinib plus osimertinib and were followed for at least nine months, with six of 12 responders still on treatment. Among the 48 patients followed for at least three months, ORR was 45.8% (95% CI, 31.4, 60.8). The most common treatment-related adverse events of any grade in greater than 15% of patients were diarrhea (40.9%), peripheral edema (23.9%) and paronychia (17.0%).

Further late-breaking data to be presented at ESMO 2022 include translational data for BAVENCIO® (avelumab) characterizing genomic biomarkers in peripheral blood from patients enrolled in the Phase III JAVELIN Bladder 100 trial [Proffered Paper #LBA74].

Additional key data to be presented:

  • A mini-oral presentation from the first-in-human Phase I study of M1774, the Company’s potentially best-in-class potent and selective inhibitor of ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3-related (ATR) showing a favorable safety profile and pharmacologically relevant exposure, in patients with advanced solid tumors (DDRiver Solid Tumors 301) [#457MO] exemplifying the Company’s commitment to advancing understanding of DNA Damage Response (DDR) inhibition mechanisms.
  • Exploratory analyses from JAVELIN Bladder 100 that examine clinical outcomes in long-term responders with advanced urothelial carcinoma treated with BAVENCIO first-line maintenance for ≥12 months [#1760P]. Long-term follow-up data presented earlier this year reinforced the benefit of BAVENCIO plus best supportive care (BSC) in the first-line maintenance setting, with a continued improvement in OS versus BSC alone for patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma whose tumors had not progressed on a platinum-based chemotherapy.1
  • Results from cohorts A and C in the Phase II VISION trial demonstrated robust and durable efficacy in treatment-naïve and previously treated patients with metastatic NSCLC with METex 14-skipping. In previously treated patients, efficacy was observed regardless of prior therapies including IO and/or platinum-based CT [#985P].

Other company-sponsored events at ESMO 2022 include:

Medical Symposia:

  • From Complex to Simple: The Journey to Strategic Sequencing in the Management of mCRC (Friday, September 9, 6:00–7:30 PM CEST, 7.3Q Quimper Auditorium, Hall 7, Level 7.3)
  • New Approaches to Optimize Treatment Outcomes in Advanced Urothelial Carcinoma (Saturday, September 10, 1:00-2:30 PM CEST, 7.3.U Urval Auditorium, Hall 7, Level 7.3)
  • Evolution of SCCHN Treatment (Sunday, September 11, 6:30-8:00 PM CEST, 7.3.0 Orleans Auditorium, Hall 7, Level 7.3).

Continuing Medical Education (CME):

  • Navigating Treatment Decisions in Advanced NSCLC: Update on Molecular Testing and New Targeted Treatment Options (Friday, September 9, 10:15-11:45 AM CEST, Quimper Auditorium, Hall 7, Level 7.3)

Select presentations (all times CEST):


Lead Author


Session Title/Date/Time


5-year overall survival (OS) in patients with locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (LA SCCHN) treated with xevinapant+chemoradiotherapy (CRT) vs placebo+CRT in a randomized, phase 2 study

J Bourhis


Mini Oral Session: Head and Neck Cancer

Saturday, 10 September

10:55 AM

A First-in-Human Phase I Study of ATR Inhibitor M1774 in Patients with Advanced Solid Tumors

(DDRiver Solid Tumors 301)

TA Yap


Mini Oral Session:

Developmental Therapeutics

Monday, 12 September

4:55 PM

Phase 1 study of TIGIT inhibitor M6223 as monotherapy or in combination with bintrafusp alfa (BA) in patients (pts) with metastatic/locally advanced solid unresectable tumours

LL Siu


Investigational immunotherapy

Monday, 12 September

BAVENCIO (avelumab)

Characterization of genomic biomarkers in peripheral blood (PB) from patients (pts) enrolled in the JAVELIN Bladder 100 trial of avelumab first-line (1L) maintenance in advanced urothelial carcinoma (aUC)

T Powles


Proffered Paper Session 1: GU tumours, non-prostate

Saturday, 10 September

11:10 AM

Avelumab versus standard second line treatment chemotherapy in metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) patients with microsatellite instability (MSI): the SAMCO-PRODIGE 54 randomised phase II trial

J Taïeb


Proffered Paper Session 1: GI lower digestive

Sunday, 11 September

11:15 AM

Avelumab first-line (1L) maintenance for advanced urothelial carcinoma (aUC): results from patients with ≥12 mos of treatment in JAVELIN Bladder 100

J Aragon-Ching


Urothelial Cancer

Monday, 12 September

Preliminary results from AVENANCE, an ongoing, noninterventional real-world, ambispective study of avelumab first-line (1L) maintenance treatment in patients (pts) with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma (la/mUC)

P Barthélémy


Urothelial Cancer

Monday, 12 September

Avelumab added to FOLFIRI plus cetuximab followed by avelumab maintenance in patients with previously

untreated RAS wild-type colorectal cancer–The phase-II FIRE-6 (AIO KRK-0118)

S Stintzing


Colorectal Cancer

Sunday, 11 September

TEPTMETKO (tepotinib)

Tepotinib+osimertinib for EGFR-mutant(m) NSCLC after progression on first-line (1L) osimertinib due to MET amplification: Initial results from the INSIGHT 2 study

J Mazieres


Proffered Paper Session: NSCLC, metastatic

Sunday, 11 September

2:55 PM

Tepotinib outcomes according to prior therapies in patients with METexon14 (METex14) skipping NSCLC

E Smit


NSCLC, metastatic

Monday, 12 September

ERBITUX (cetuximab)

Phase III study with FOLFIRI/Cetuximab versus FOLFIRI/Cetuximab followed by Cetuximab (Cet) alone in first-line therapy of RAS and BRAF wild type (wt) metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) patients: the ERMES Study (NCT02484833)

A Orlandi


Proffered Paper Session 1: GI, lower digestive

Sunday, 11 September

10:25 AM

All Merck press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck website. Please go to to register online, change your selection or discontinue this service.

About BAVENCIO® (avelumab)

BAVENCIO is a human anti-programmed death ligand-1 (PD-L1) antibody. BAVENCIO has been shown in preclinical models to engage both the adaptive and innate immune functions. By blocking the interaction of PD-L1 with PD-1 receptors, BAVENCIO has been shown to release the suppression of the T cell-mediated antitumor immune response in preclinical models. In November 2014, Merck and Pfizer announced a strategic alliance to co-develop and co-commercialize BAVENCIO.

BAVENCIO Approved Indications

The European Commission (EC) has authorized the use of BAVENCIO 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. BAVENCIO in combination with axitinib is indicated for the first-line treatment of adult patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC). BAVENCIO is also authorized by the EC for use as a monotherapy for the treatment of adult patients with metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC).

In the US, BAVENCIO is indicated for the maintenance treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma (UC) that has not progressed with first-line platinum-containing chemotherapy. BAVENCIO is also indicated for the treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic UC who have disease progression during or following platinum-containing chemotherapy, or have disease progression within 12 months of neoadjuvant or adjuvant treatment with platinum-containing chemotherapy.

BAVENCIO in combination with axitinib is indicated in the US for the first-line treatment of patients with advanced RCC. Additionally, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted accelerated approval for BAVENCIO for the treatment of adults and pediatric patients 12 years and older with metastatic MCC. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and duration of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trials.

BAVENCIO is currently approved for at least one indication for patients in more than 50 countries.

BAVENCIO Safety Profile from the EU Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC)

The special warnings and precautions for use for BAVENCIO monotherapy include infusion-related reactions, as well as immune-related adverse reactions that include pneumonitis and hepatitis (including fatal cases), colitis, pancreatitis (including fatal cases), myocarditis (including fatal cases), endocrinopathies, nephritis and renal dysfunction, and other immune-related adverse reactions. The special warnings and precautions for use for BAVENCIO in combination with axitinib include hepatotoxicity.

The SmPC list of the most common adverse reactions with BAVENCIO monotherapy in patients with solid tumors includes fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, decreased appetite, constipation, infusion-related reactions, weight decreased and vomiting. The list of most common adverse reactions with BAVENCIO in combination with axitinib includes diarrhea, hypertension, fatigue, nausea, dysphonia, decreased appetite, hypothyroidism, cough, headache, dyspnea, and arthralgia.

About TEPMETKO® (tepotinib)

TEPMETKO is a once-daily oral MET inhibitor that inhibits the oncogenic MET receptor signaling caused by MET (gene) alterations. Discovered and developed in-house at Merck, TEPMETKO has a highly selective mechanism of action, with the potential to improve outcomes in aggressive tumors that have a poor prognosis and harbor these specific alterations.

TEPMETKO was the first oral MET inhibitor to receive a regulatory approval anywhere in the world for the treatment of advanced NSCLC harboring MET gene alterations, with its approval in Japan in March 2020. In February 2021, the US Food and Drug Administration granted accelerated approval to TEPMETKO, making it the first and only once-daily oral MET inhibitor approved for patients in the U.S. with metastatic NSCLC with METex14 skipping alterations.

TEPMETKO is available in a number of countries. To meet an urgent clinical need, TEPMETKO is also available in a pilot zone of China in line with the government policy to drive early access for innovative medicines approved outside of China.

Merck is also investigating the potential role of tepotinib in treating patients with NSCLC and acquired resistance due to MET amplification in the Phase II INSIGHT 2 study of tepotinib in combination with osimertinib in MET amplified, advanced or metastatic NSCLC harboring activating EGFR mutations that has progressed following first-line treatment with osimertinib.

TEPMETKOSafety Profile from the EU Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC)

The special warnings and precautions for use for TEPMETKO monotherapy include Interstitial lung disease (ILD) or ILD-like adverse reactions including pneumonitis, increase of Liver enzymes (ALT and AST), QTc prolongation, and embryo-foetal toxicity.

The most common adverse reactions in ≥ 20% of exposed to tepotinib at the recommended dose in the target indication are oedema, mainly peripheral oedema, nausea, hypoalbuminaemia, diarrhoea and increase in creatinine. The most common serious adverse reactions in ≥ 1% of patients are peripheral oedema, generalised oedema and ILD.

About ERBITUX® (cetuximab)

ERBITUX is an IgG1 monoclonal antibody targeting the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). As a monoclonal antibody, the mode of action of ERBITUX is distinct from standard non-selective chemotherapy treatments in that it specifically targets and binds to the EGFR. This binding inhibits the activation of the receptor and the subsequent signal-transduction pathway, which results in reducing both the invasion of normal tissues by tumor cells and the spread of tumors to new sites. It is also believed to inhibit the ability of tumor cells to repair the damage caused by chemotherapy and radiotherapy and to inhibit the formation of new blood vessels inside tumors, which appears to lead to an overall suppression of tumor growth. Based on in vitro evidence, ERBITUX also targets cytotoxic immune effector cells towards EGFR-expressing tumor cells (antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity [ADCC]).

ERBITUX has already obtained market authorization in over 100 countries worldwide for the treatment of RAS wild-type metastatic colorectal cancer and for the treatment of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Merck licensed the right to market ERBITUX, a registered trademark of ImClone LLC, outside the U.S. and Canada from ImClone LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Eli Lilly and Company, in 1998.

About Xevinapant

Xevinapant (formerly known as Debio 1143) is an investigational first-in-class potent oral small-molecule IAP (inhibitor of apoptosis protein) inhibitor for the treatment of LA SCCHN. In preclinical studies, xevinapant restored sensitivity to apoptosis in cancer cells, thereby enhancing the effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Xevinapant, the most clinically advanced IAP inhibitor, improved efficacy outcomes in combination with chemoradiotherapy (CRT), including three-year progression-free survival and five-year survival, compared with placebo plus CRT in a Phase II study in patients with unresected locally advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (LA SCCHN). In March 2021, Merck gained exclusive rights from Debiopharm to develop and commercialize xevinapant worldwide. Xevinapant is not approved for any use anywhere in the world.

About Merck

Merck, a leading science and technology company, operates across life science, healthcare and electronics. More than 60,000 employees work to make a positive difference to millions of people’s lives every day by creating more joyful and sustainable ways to live. From advancing gene editing technologies and discovering unique ways to treat the most challenging diseases to enabling the intelligence of devices – the company is everywhere. In 2021, Merck generated sales of € 19.7 billion in 66 countries.

Scientific exploration and responsible entrepreneurship have been key to Merck’s technological and scientific advances. This is how Merck has thrived since its founding in 1668. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed company. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the business sectors of Merck operate as MilliporeSigma in life science, EMD Serono in healthcare, and EMD Electronics in electronics.


1 Powles T, Park SH, Voog E, et al. Avelumab first-line (1L) maintenance for advanced urothelial carcinoma (UC): Long-term follow-up results from the JAVELIN Bladder 100 trial. J Clin Oncol 40, 2022 (suppl 6; abstr 487).

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