Drugmaker Merck & Co Inc said on Monday that the combination of its cancer immunotherapy Keytruda with Pfizer Inc's cut the risk of death nearly in half for patients with the most common form of kidney cancer when compared with treatment with chemotherapy drug Sutent.
The drugs lead to a near 50% decrease in the risk of death compared to chemotherapy drug sunitinib.
They were also found to improve progression-free survival (PFS) and objective response rate (ORR).
Approval of the combination to treat patients with RCC would put Merck again in competition with rival Bristol-Myers Squibb Co's Opdivo, which is already being used in combination with another Bristol-Myers drug.
Bristol-Myers was a pioneer in pushing treatments that help the immune system attack tumours and Opdivo looked poised to be a top immuno-oncology treatment.