FDA halts Merck blood cancer clinical trials after patient deaths

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The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday placed a clinical hold on three of Merck's multiple myeloma clinical trials following numerous reports of patient deaths, reports Reuters.

The trials were testing the efficacy of Keytruda, used in combination with standard multiple myeloma medications, to treat the blood cancer.

The FDA paused the trial after more patient deaths occurred among multiple myeloma patients taking the Keytruda immunotherapy regimen. Available data shows the risks of combining Keytruda with existing multiple myeloma drugs outweigh any possible benefits for this patient population, the FDA said.

At present, Keytruda is only approved to treat one form of blood cancer — classical Hodgkin's lymphoma.

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