Avelumab for the treatment of metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma

Drugs Today (Barc). 2017 Jul;53(7):377-383. doi: 10.1358/dot.2017.53.7.2654888.


Avelumab is a promising new therapeutic agent for patients with metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare and aggressive type of neuroendocrine tumor of the skin. Until the recent approval of avelumab (Bavencio), no therapies were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma. In a recent trial, avelumab, an anti-programmed death ligand-1 antibody, demonstrated an objective response in 28 of 88 patients (31.8% [95.9% CI, 21.9-43.1]) with advanced, chemotherapy-refractory Merkel cell carcinoma. Overall, avelumab was well tolerated at a dose of 10 mg/kg administered intravenously every 2 weeks. Serious treatment-related adverse events were reported in 5 patients (6%), but no grade 4 adverse events or treatment-related deaths were reported. Preliminary data evaluating avelumab in chemotherapy-naive patients is also encouraging.

Keywords: Avelumab; Bavencio; MSB-0010718C; Merkel cell carcinoma; PD-L1.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / adverse effects
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Merkel Cell / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Skin Neoplasms / drug therapy*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • avelumab