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Expert Point of View: Roy S. Herbst, MD, PhD, FACP, FASCO


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Roy S. Herbst, MD, PhD, FACP, FASCO

Roy S. Herbst, MD, PhD, FACP, FASCO

Invited discussant of the EMPOWER-Lung 1 trial, Roy S. Herbst, MD, PhD, FACP, FASCO, Chief, Medical Oncology, Yale Cancer Center, New Haven, Connecticut, pointed out the tremendous progress that has been made since 2000 in treating NSCLC. “In 2000, median survival for advanced NSCLC was 7.9 months. With single-agent nivolumab, patients with refractory disease now have 5-year survival of 16%. We have come very far.”

“The EMPOWER-Lung 1 trial is a ‘real-world’ symphony,” Dr. Herbst continued. “This is a trial done late in the game with an approved drug, and it included a more real-world population than other trials of PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitors; everyone had to be a smoker, and even more significantly, patients were allowed to have stable brain metastasis. This is what we see in the real world.”

Dr. Herbst found the PD-L1 testing “interesting,” since the first 235 patients had to be retested to define accurately high PD-L1 expression. He also pointed out that the study included some patients with advanced disease and not only those with metastatic NSCLC. “It’s hard to know what to make of that,” he noted.

“The quality-of-life data are impressive [with cemiplimab]. This becomes even more important as you treat patients for longer periods,” Dr. Herbst said. 

DISCLOSURE: Dr. Herbst is a consultant for AbbVie, Armo Biosciences, AstraZeneca, Biodesix, Bristol Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, EMD Serono, Genentech/Roche, Genmab, Halozyme, Heat Biologics, Infinity Pharmaceuticals, Loxo Oncology, Merck, Nektar, Neon Therapeutics, NextCure, Novartis, Pfizer, Sanofi, Seattle Genetics, Shire PLC, Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, Symphogen, Tesaro, and Tocagen; has received research support from AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, and Merck; and is a member of the Board of Directors (nonexecutive/independent) for Junshi Biosciences.


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