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Merck at ASCO 2007: Spectrum of Studies Reinforces Promise of,Erbitux for Colorectal and Head and Neck Cancer Patients

a division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. “We believe we have reached a milestone in oncology. Erbitux consistently adds meaningful efficacy throughout all lines of mCRC therapy. The increased resection rates we observed suggest a high potential to provide a cure for those patients. The results also highlight how extensively Erbitux has advanced the treatment of patients with head and neck cancer, where Erbitux shows benefits in all lines of treatment. For the first time in 35 years, a significant survival benefit has been demonstrated by adding Erbitux to standard platinum-based chemotherapy in first-line treatment.”

In addition to these efficacy trials, studies have been carried out on infusion-related reactions and dosing. New findings from the MABEL(f) study, also presented at ASCO, suggest that the type of pre-medication given to mCRC patients might impact on the occurrence of infusion-related reactions (IRRs) associated with Erbitux plus irinotecan therapy. The data show that the addition of corticosteroids to antihistamines may reduce IRRs but, importantly, achieves this without altering anti-tumor efficacy.

Finally, evidence exists to confirm a correlation between the incidence of skin reaction and response to treatment when patients are treated with Erbitux. The EVEREST(g) study examined the effect of Erbitux dose escalation on mCRC patients who experienced no or mild skin reaction when treated with the standard dose of Erbitux (250 mg/m2) for 3 weeks. The study showed that increasing the dose of Erbitux incrementally up to 500 mg/m2/week can lead to a tumor response in patients who may not respond to the standard dose.

More than 370,000 people develop colorectal cancer in Europe every year, accounting for 13% of the total cancer burden and around 200,000 deaths.(1) Approximately 25% of patients present with metastatic disease.(2) Five-year survival rates for patients with mCRC are as low as 5%.(3)

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