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Expert Point of View: Ian Chau, MD


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IAN CHAU, MD, a consultant medical oncologist at the Gastrointestinal and Lymphoma Units of The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in London and Surrey, United Kingdom, was the invited discussant of KEYNOTE-062.

Ian Chau, MD

Ian Chau, MD

In an interview with The ASCO Post, he first commented that although single-agent pembrolizumab is a new option, it would probably not be suitable for the patient who needs a rapid response due to a large tumor burden or symptoms. “Some patients cannot wait for the results of combined positive score (CPS) testing, and pembrolizumab also takes a while to work,” he said. “But there’s a group of patients for whom pembrolizumab works well, and they can have a long duration of response and impressive survival benefit…. Within this group, I really think there is something there,” he commented.

“We have all used single-agent [programmed cell death protein 1/ programmed cell death ligand 1] antibodies, and we know the toxicity profile is favorable. If you take away the financial toxicity—ie, make the drug accessible to the patient—then it’s a valid treatment option, even for patients with a CPS ≥ 1, but especially for patients with a CPS ≥ 10, where the superiority of single-agent pembrolizumab was inferred in KEYNOTE-062,” Dr. Chau said.

He hopes patient selection can be refined, since 1 mg of pembrolizumab is more than the price of 1 mg of gold, he indicated to attendees. He also hopes future trials will evaluate pembrolizumab in combination with other agents (aside from chemotherapy) and that their designs will be less complex than KEYNOTE-062.

“Multiplicity of comparisons, ie, splitting of the alpha,” he suggested, may be one reason why pembrolizumab plus chemotherapy was not better than chemotherapy alone. “Let’s bring simplicity back!”

DISCLOSURE: Dr. Chau is a consultant or advisor for AstraZeneca, Bayer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Lilly, Merck Serono, MSD Oncology, Oncologie International, Pierre Fabre, and Roche/Genentech and has received honoraria from Lilly; travel expenses from Bristol-Myers Squibb, Lilly, Merck Serono, and MSD; and institutional research funding from Janssen-Cilag, Sanofi, Merck Serono, and Lilly.


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