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Avelumab approved in EU for frontline maintenance in bladder cancer


The PD-L1 inhibitor was approved based on data from the phase 3 JAVELIN Bladder 100 study.

The European Commission has approved the PD-L1 inhibitor avelumab (Bavencio) for the maintenance treatment of adult patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma that has not progressed with frontline platinum-containing chemotherapy.1

The approval was based on data from the phase 3 JAVELIN Bladder 100 study, in which the median overall survival (OS) was 21.4 months with avelumab plus best supportive care (BSC) compared with 14.3 months with BSC alone.2 This 7.1-month benefit translated to a 31% reduction in the risk of death (HR, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.56-0.86; P <.001).

"Avelumab is the only immunotherapy to demonstrate a significant improvement in overall survival in the first-line setting in a phase 3 study in advanced or metastatic bladder cancer. With this approval by the European Commission, we can now offer patients a potential new first-line maintenance standard of care that may help them live longer," Thomas Powles, MD, director of Barts Cancer Centre, London, UK, stated in a press release.

The open-label, international JAVELIN Bladder 100 trial included 700 patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial cancer who achieved a complete response (CR), partial response (PR), or stable disease (SD) after receiving 4 to 6 cycles of standard gemcitabine combined with either cisplatin or carboplatin.

Patients were randomized in a 1:1 ratio to intravenous avelumab (10 mg/kg every 2 weeks in 4-week cycles) plus BSC or BSC alone. Specific components of BSC could be correction of metabolic disorders, antibiotics, pain management, nutritional support, and symptom control.

The primary end point was OS, with key secondary end points including progression-free survival and safety.

The investigators reported that the avelumab OS benefit was observed across patient subgroups, including those defined by best response to treatment (CR, PR, or SD), and choice of frontline platinum chemotherapy (carboplatin or cisplatin).

Biomarker testing showed that 51% (n = 358) of patients were PD-L1 positive across the overall study population. In this subgroup, avelumab plus BSC induced a 44% reduction in the risk of death compared with BSC alone (HR, 0.56; 95% CI, 0.40-0.79; P <.001). An exploratory analysis was also conducted among PD-L1–negative patients (n = 271), showing a hazard ratio for OS of 0.85 (95% CI, 0.62-1.18).

Adverse events (AEs) across all grades occurred in 98% versus 77.7% of the avelumab and control groups, respectively. Grade 3 AEs occurred in 47.4% versus 25.2% of the 2 arms, respectively.

The FDA approved avelumab in July 2020 for use in this setting.


1. European Commission Approves BAVENCIO® (avelumab) for First-Line Maintenance Treatment of Locally Advanced or Metastatic Urothelial Carcinoma. Posted online January 25, 2021. Accessed January 25, 2021. https://bit.ly/2KOM8du.

2. FDA Approves BAVENCIO as First-Line Maintenance Treatment for Patients with Locally Advanced or Metastatic Urothelial Carcinoma. Posted June 30, 2020. https://prn.to/2ZvnzFA. Accessed June 30, 2020.

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