FDA Approval Summary: Atezolizumab for the Treatment of Patients with Progressive Advanced Urothelial Carcinoma after Platinum-Containing Chemotherapy

Oncologist. 2017 Jun;22(6):743-749. doi: 10.1634/theoncologist.2017-0087. Epub 2017 Apr 19.


Until recently in the United States, no products were approved for second-line treatment of advanced urothelial carcinoma. On May 18, 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved atezolizumab for the treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma whose disease progressed during or following platinum-containing chemotherapy or within 12 months of neoadjuvant or adjuvant treatment with platinum-containing chemotherapy. Atezolizumab is a programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) blocking antibody and represents the first approved product directed against PD-L1. This accelerated approval was based on results of a single-arm trial in 310 patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma who had disease progression after prior platinum-containing chemotherapy. Patients received atezolizumab 1,200 mg intravenously every 3 weeks until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity. Key efficacy measures were objective response rate (ORR), as assessed by Independent Review per RECIST 1.1, and duration of response (DoR). With a median follow-up of 14.4 months, confirmed ORR was 14.8% (95% CI: 11.1, 19.3) in all treated patients. Median DoR was not reached and response durations ranged from 2.1+ to 13.8+ months. Of the 46 responders, 37 patients had an ongoing response for ≥ 6 months. The most common adverse reactions (≥20%) were fatigue, decreased appetite, nausea, urinary tract infection, pyrexia, and constipation. Infection and immune-related adverse events also occurred, including pneumonitis, hepatitis, colitis, endocrine disorders, and rashes. Overall, the benefit-risk assessment was favorable to support accelerated approval. The observed clinical benefits need to be verified in confirmatory trial(s).

Implications for practice: This accelerated approval of atezolizumab for second-line use in advanced urothelial carcinoma provides patients with an effective, novel treatment option for the management of their disease. This represents the first immunotherapy approved in this disease setting.

Keywords: Atezolizumab; Bladder cancer; Immunotherapy; Locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma; Platinum‐containing chemotherapy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / administration & dosage*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / adverse effects
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / pathology
  • Drug Approval
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Platinum / therapeutic use
  • Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors
  • Risk Assessment
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration
  • Urologic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Urologic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Urologic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Urothelium / drug effects*
  • Urothelium / pathology


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Platinum
  • atezolizumab