A Phase II Study of Pembrolizumab in EGFR-Mutant, PD-L1+, Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor Naïve Patients With Advanced NSCLC

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Abstract

Background:

Despite the significant antitumor activity of pembrolizumab in NSCLC, clinical benefit has been less frequently observed in patients whose tumors harbor EGFR mutations compared to EGFR wild-type patients. Our single-center experience on the KEYNOTE-001 trial suggested that pembrolizumab-treated EGFR-mutant patients, who were tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) naïve, had superior clinical outcomes to those previously treated with a TKI. As TKI naïve EGFR-mutants have generally been excluded from pembrolizumab studies, data to guide treatment decisions in this patient population is lacking, particularly in patients with programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression ≥50%.

Methods:

We conducted a phase II trial (NCT02879994) of pembrolizumab in TKI naive patients with EGFR mutation–positive, advanced NSCLC and PD-L1–positive (≥1%, 22C3 antibody) tumors. Pembrolizumab was administered 200 mg every 3 weeks. The primary endpoint was objective response rate. Secondary endpoints included safety of pembrolizumab, additional pembrolizumab efficacy endpoints, and efficacy and safety of an EGFR TKI after pembrolizumab.

Results:

Enrollment was ceased due to lack of efficacy after 11 of 25 planned patients were treated. Eighty-two percent of trial patients were treatment naïve, 64% had sensitizing EGFR mutations, and 73% had PD-L1 expression ≥50%. Only 1 patient had an objective response (9%), but repeat analysis of this patient’s tumor definitively showed the original report of an EGFR mutation to be erroneous. Observed treatment-related adverse events were similar to prior experience with pembrolizumab, but two deaths within 6 months of enrollment, including one attributed to pneumonitis, were of concern.

Conclusions:

Pembrolizumab’s lack of efficacy in TKI naïve, PD-L1+, EGFR-mutant patients with advanced NSCLC, including those with PD-L1 expression ≥50%, suggests that it is not an appropriate therapeutic choice in this setting.

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