Healthcare Industry News:  Merck 

Biopharmaceuticals Oncology Distribution

 News Release - May 6, 2015

EMD Serono Initiates Co-Promotion of XALKORI(R) (crizotinib) with Pfizer in the United States

Marks first commercial oncology milestone for EMD Serono through the global strategic alliance between Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany and Pfizer

Expands on EMD Serono strategy and deep expertise in addressing unmet needs in specialty care


ROCKLAND, Mass., May 6, 2015 -- (Healthcare Sales & Marketing Network) -- EMD Serono, the U.S. biopharmaceutical business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, today announced it has begun co-promoting Pfizer's anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) inhibitor XALKORI® (crizotinib) as part of its global strategic alliance with Pfizer. The initiation of field-based commercialization efforts for XALKORI illustrates the company's dedication to oncology, and to bringing important treatment options for challenging cancers to patients.

"The XALKORI co-promotion between EMD Serono and Pfizer marks our first entry into the U.S. oncology market, further delivers on our EMD Serono strategy in specialty care and, most importantly, extends our work to help patients and their families battling serious diseases," said Paris Panayiotopoulos, President and Managing Director at EMD Serono. "As our pipeline progresses, we aim to build on this first entry with additional oncology and immuno-oncology therapies."

EMD Serono has extensive expertise in specialty care and is backed by a global organization with deep oncology experience, which positions the Company well to bring oncology treatments to patients in the U.S. Along those lines, the Company is establishing a strong sales force for XALKORI based in U.S. markets with premier cancer centers, deepening EMD Serono's engagement with the clinical oncology community.

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer, but has many subtypes and can be difficult to treat. XALKORI is approved in the U.S. for the treatment of patients with metastatic NSCLC whose tumors are anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-positive as detected by an FDA-approved test. XALKORI is the first ALK inhibitor approved in the U.S., Japan and the European Union (EU) and is supported by two positive global randomized trials in the first- and second-line ALK-positive advanced NSCLC treatment settings. More than 8,000 patients have been treated worldwide with XALKORI, including those who received the treatment in clinical trials.

This co-promotion relationship is part of the larger, global strategic alliance between Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and Pfizer to jointly develop and commercialize avelumab, an investigational anti-PD-L1 monoclonal antibody, to accelerate the development of immuno-oncology medicines for patients with cancer. The immuno-oncology alliance will also advance Pfizer's PD-1 antibody.

Outside of the scope of its alliance with Pfizer, EMD Serono has a diversified oncology and immuno-oncology pipeline which includes multiple, high-priority projects currently in development to optimize patient outcomes in challenging cancers that have significant unmet patient need.

About Non-small Cell Lung Cancer

Globally, lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related deaths in men and the second most common in women, responsible for almost twice as many deaths as both breast and prostate cancer combined. Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for 85 to 90 percent of all lung cancers. Locally advanced and metastatic disease account for approximately 35 to 40 percent and 70 percent of patients, respectively with NSCLC.

About XALKORI® (crizotinib)

XALKORI is a kinase inhibitor indicated in the U.S. for the treatment of patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer whose tumors are anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-positive as detected by an FDA-approved test. The U.S. indication is not limited to any specific line of therapy.

XALKORI® Important Safety Information

Hepatotoxicity: Drug-induced hepatotoxicity with fatal outcome occurred in 0.2% of patients treated with XALKORI across clinical trials (n=1225). Transaminase elevations generally occurred within the first 2 months of treatment. Monitor with liver function tests including ALT and total bilirubin every 2 weeks during the first 2 months of treatment, then once a month and as clinically indicated. Permanently discontinue for ALT or AST elevation greater than 3 times ULN with concurrent total bilirubin elevation greater than 1.5 times ULN (in the absence of cholestasis or hemolysis), otherwise temporarily suspend and dose reduce XALKORI as indicated.

Pneumonitis: Severe, life-threatening, or fatal interstitial lung disease (ILD)/pneumonitis can occur in patients treated with XALKORI. Across clinical trials (n=1225), 2.5% of XALKORI-treated patients had any grade ILD, 0.9% of patients had Grade 3 or 4, and 0.5% had fatal cases. These cases generally occurred within 2 months after the initiation of treatment. Monitor patients for pulmonary symptoms indicative of pneumonitis. Exclude other causes and permanently discontinue XALKORI in patients with drug related pneumonitis.

QT Interval Prolongation: QTc prolongation can occur in patients treated with XALKORI. Across clinical trials (n=1225), QTc prolongation (all grades) was observed in 2.7% of patients and QTc greater than 500 ms on at least 2 separate ECGs occurred in 1.4% of patients. Avoid use of XALKORI in patients with congenital long QT syndrome. Consider periodic monitoring with electrocardiograms and electrolytes in patients who have a history of or predisposition for QTc prolongation, or who are taking medications that prolong the QT interval. Permanently discontinue XALKORI in patients who develop QTc greater than 500 ms or greater than or equal to 60 ms change from baseline with Torsade de pointes, polymorphic ventricular tachycardia, or signs/symptoms of serious arrhythmia, otherwise temporarily suspend and dose reduce XALKORI as indicated.

Bradycardia: Symptomatic bradycardia can occur in patients receiving XALKORI. Across clinical trials, bradycardia with a heart rate less than 50 beats per minute occurred in 11% of patients treated with XALKORI (n=1174). Monitor heart rate and blood pressure regularly. Avoid using XALKORI in combination with other agents known to cause bradycardia to the extent possible. Permanently discontinue for life-threatening bradycardia due to XALKORI; however, if associated with concomitant medications known to cause bradycardia or hypotension, hold XALKORI until recovery to asymptomatic bradycardia or to a heart rate of 60 bpm or above. If concomitant medications can be adjusted or discontinued, restart XALKORI at 250 mg once daily with frequent monitoring. Otherwise temporarily suspend and resume or dose reduce XALKORI as indicated.

Embryofetal Toxicity: XALKORI can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. Women of childbearing potential should be advised to avoid becoming pregnant while receiving XALKORI. If the patient or their partner becomes pregnant while taking this drug, apprise the patient of the potential hazard to the fetus.

Adverse Reactions: Safety was evaluated in a phase 3 study in patients with ALK-positive metastatic NSCLC randomized to XALKORI (n=172) or chemotherapy (n=171). Serious adverse reactions were reported in 37.2% patients treated with XALKORI. The most frequent serious adverse reactions reported in patients treated with XALKORI were pneumonia (4.1%), pulmonary embolism (3.5%), dyspnea (2.3%), and ILD (2.9%). Fatal adverse reactions in XALKORI-treated patients occurred in 9 (5%) patients, consisting of: acute respiratory distress syndrome, arrhythmia, dyspnea, ILD, pneumonia, pneumonitis, pulmonary embolism, respiratory failure, and sepsis. Common adverse reactions occurring in =25% included vision disorder (diplopia, photophobia, photopsia, vision blurred, visual acuity reduced, visual impairment, vitreous floaters), diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, constipation, edema, decreased appetite, fatigue, upper respiratory infection, and dysgeusia. Grade 3 or 4 events occurring at a higher incidence with XALKORI than with chemotherapy and at greater than 2% incidence were syncope (3%), QT prolongation (3%), and pulmonary embolism (5%). Elevation of ALT of any grade occurred in 76% of patients and grade 3 or 4 in 17% of patients. Neutropenia of any grade occurred in 49% of patients and grade 3 or 4 in 12% of patients. Lymphopenia of any grade occurred in 51% of patients and grade 3 or 4 in 9% of patients. Renal cysts occurred in 4% and neuropathy in 19% of patients treated with XALKORI.

Drug Interactions: Exercise caution with concomitant use of moderate CYP3A inhibitors. Avoid grapefruit or grapefruit juice which may increase plasma concentrations of crizotinib. Avoid concomitant use of strong CYP3A inducers and inhibitors. Dose reduction may be needed for co-administered drugs that are predominantly metabolized by CYP3A.

Nursing Mothers: Given the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants, consider whether to discontinue nursing or discontinue XALKORI.

Hepatic Impairment: XALKORI has not been studied in patients with hepatic impairment. As crizotinib is extensively metabolized in the liver, hepatic impairment is likely to increase plasma Crizotinib concentrations. Use caution in patients with hepatic impairment.

Renal Impairment: Administer XALKORI at a starting dose of 250 mg taken orally once daily in patients with severe renal impairment (CLcr

For more information and full prescribing information, please visit www.XALKORI.com.

About EMD Serono

EMD Serono, the U.S. biopharmaceutical business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, is a leading U.S. biopharma company focused exclusively on specialty care. For more than 40 years, EMD Serono has integrated cutting-edge science, innovative products and devices, and industry-leading patient support and access programs. EMD Serono has deep expertise in neurology, fertility and endocrinology, as well as a robust pipeline of potential therapies in neurology, oncology, immunology and immuno-oncology. Today, EMD Serono has more than 1,100 employees around the country with commercial, clinical and research operations based in the company's home state of Massachusetts.

For more information, please visit www.emdserono.com.

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

Merck KGaA of Darmstadt, Germany, is a leading company for innovative and top-quality high-tech products in healthcare, life science and performance materials. The company has six businesses – Biopharmaceuticals, Consumer Health, Allergopharma, Biosimilars, Life Science and Performance Materials – and generated sales of € 11.3 billion in 2014. Around 39,000 employees work in 66 countries to improve the quality of life for patients, to foster the success of customers and to help meet global challenges. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, is the world's oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company – since 1668, the company has stood for innovation, business success and responsible entrepreneurship. Holding an approximately 70% interest, the founding family remains the majority owner of the company to this day. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are Canada and the United States, where the company operates as EMD Serono, EMD Millipore and EMD Performance Materials.



Source: EMD Serono

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