FDA Approval Summary: Belzutifan for von Hippel-Lindau Disease-Associated Tumors

Clin Cancer Res. 2022 Nov 14;28(22):4843-4848. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-22-1054.


On August 13, 2021, the FDA approved belzutifan (WELIREG, Merck), a first-in-class hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) inhibitor for adult patients with von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease who require therapy for associated renal cell carcinoma (RCC), central nervous system (CNS) hemangioblastomas, or pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (pNET), not requiring immediate surgery. The FDA granted approval based on the clinically meaningful effects on overall response rate (ORR) observed in patients enrolled in Study MK-6482-004. All 61 patients had VHL-associated RCC; some also had CNS hemangioblastomas and/or pNET. For VHL disease-associated RCC, ORR was 49% [95% confidence interval (CI), 36-62], median duration of response (DoR) was not reached, 56% of responders had DoR ≥12 months, and median time to response was 8 months. Twenty-four patients had measurable CNS hemangioblastomas with an ORR of 63% (95% CI, 41-81), and 12 patients had measurable pNET with an ORR of 83% (95% CI, 52-98). For these tumors, median DoR was not reached, with 73% and 50% of patients having response durations ≥12 months for CNS hemangioblastomas and pNET, respectively. The most common adverse reactions, including laboratory abnormalities, reported in ≥20% were anemia, fatigue, increased creatinine, headache, dizziness, increased glucose, and nausea. Belzutifan can render some hormonal contraceptives ineffective and can cause embryo-fetal harm during pregnancy. This article summarizes the data and the FDA thought process supporting traditional approval of belzutifan for this indication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antineoplastic Agents*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell* / complications
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms*
  • Female
  • Hemangioblastoma* / complications
  • Hemangioblastoma* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Kidney Neoplasms*
  • Neuroectodermal Tumors, Primitive* / complications
  • Pregnancy
  • von Hippel-Lindau Disease* / complications
  • von Hippel-Lindau Disease* / drug therapy
  • von Hippel-Lindau Disease* / pathology


  • Antineoplastic Agents