A New Cancer Drug Shows Even More Promise

April 19, 2016



Publication Date

April 19, 2016


Alice Park


When Jimmy Carter took the drug pembrolizumab to treat his cancer, it had just been approved for people like him: those with advanced melanoma that had spread to other organs, such as the brain, liver and lungs. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug through an accelerated fast-track process even before the full study on its effectiveness was completed because the results from the first few hundred patients who tested it were so positive.

Now, in a report published in JAMA, researchers provide all of the data on all 655 people who participated in the trial and were followed for more than one year. The results justify the FDA’s decision and provide more confidence that pembrolizumab, or Keytruda, may become an effective treatment that people with late-stage melanoma can try at any time in their disease—before or after other therapies including drugs or chemotherapy or radiation.

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