Randomized Double-Blind Phase II Study of Maintenance Pembrolizumab Versus Placebo after First-Line Chemotherapy in Patients with Metastatic Urothelial Cancer

Matthew D. Galsky, Amir Mortazavi, Matthew I. Milowsky, Saby George, Sumati Gupta, Mark T. Fleming, Long H. Dang, Daniel M. Geynisman, Radhika Walling, Robert S. Alter, Mohamad Kassar, Jue Wang, Shilpa Gupta, Nancy Davis, Joel Picus, George Philips, David I. Quinn, G. Kenneth Haines, Noah M. Hahn, Qianqian ZhaoMenggang Yu, Sumanta K. Pal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


PURPOSE Platinum-based chemotherapy for first-line treatment of metastatic urothelial cancer is typically administered for a fixed duration followed by observation until progression. “Switch maintenance” therapy with PD-1 blockade at the time of chemotherapy cessation may be attractive for mechanistic and pragmatic reasons. PATIENTS AND METHODS Patients with metastatic urothelial cancer achieving at least stable disease on first-line platinum-based chemotherapy were enrolled. Patients were randomly assigned double-blind 1:1 to switch maintenance pembrolizumab 200 mg intravenously once every 3 weeks versus placebo for up to 24 months. Patients with disease progression on placebo could cross over to pembrolizumab. The primary objective was to determine the progression-free survival. Secondary objectives included determining overall survival as well as treatment outcomes according to PD-L1 combined positive score (CPS). RESULTS Between December 2015 and November 2018, 108 patients were randomly assigned to pembrolizumab (n 5 55) or placebo (n 5 53). The objective response rate was 23% with pembrolizumab and 10% with placebo. Treatment-emergent grade 3-4 adverse events occurred in 59% receiving pembrolizumab and 38% of patients receiving placebo. Progression-free survival was significantly longer with maintenance pembrolizumab versus placebo (5.4 months [95% CI, 3.1 to 7.3 months] v 3.0 months [95% CI; 2.7 to 5.5 months]; hazard ratio, 0.65; log-rank P 5 .04; maximum efficiency robust test P 5 .039). Median overall survival was 22 months (95% CI, 12.9 months to not reached) with pembrolizumab and 18.7 months (95% CI, 11.4 months to not reached) with placebo. There was no significant interaction between PD-L1 CPS $ 10 and treatment arm for progression-free survival or overall survival. CONCLUSION Switch maintenance pembrolizumab leads to additional objective responses in patients achieving at least stable disease with first-line platinum-based chemotherapy and prolongs progression-free survival in patients with metastatic urothelial cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1797-1806
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number16
StatePublished - Apr 10 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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