Study of Pembrolizumab (MK-3475) in Platinum Pre-treated Recurrent/Metastatic Nasopharyngeal Cancer (MK-3475-122/KEYNOTE-122)

Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) logo

Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD)

Status and phase

Phase 3


Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms


Drug: Capecitabine
Drug: Docetaxel
Drug: Gemcitabine
Biological: Pembrolizumab

Study type


Funder types



KEYNOTE-122 (Other Identifier)
MK-3475-122 (Other Identifier)

Details and patient eligibility


This is a study of pembrolizumab (MK-3475) versus standard treatment (capecitabine, gemcitabine, or docetaxel) for the treatment of recurrent or metastatic nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC). Participants will be randomly assigned to receive either pembrolizumab or Investigator's choice of standard treatment. The primary study hypothesis is that pembrolizumab treatment prolongs Overall Survival (OS) when compared to standard treatment. With Amendment 7 (effective 2-March-2022), upon study completion, participants will be discontinued and may be enrolled in an extension study.


233 patients




18+ years old


No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • Histologically confirmed non-keratinizing differentiated NPC or undifferentiated NPC
  • Metastatic disease or incurable locally recurrent disease
  • Treatment with prior platinum therapy
  • Tumor tissue available for programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) testing
  • Measurable disease based on RECIST 1.1
  • Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status of 0 or 1
  • Adequate organ function
  • Male or female participants of childbearing potential must be willing to use an adequate method of contraception starting with the first dose of study drug through 180 days after the last dose of study drug
  • Life expectancy of at least 3 months

Exclusion criteria

  • Disease is suitable for local therapy administered with curative intent
  • Participants previously treated in the recurrent/metastatic setting with any 1 of the 3 standard therapies in this study (i.e., docetaxel, capecitabine, or gemcitabine) may not receive the same therapy if randomized to the Standard Treatment arm. Additionally, participants previously treated in the recurrent/metastatic setting with all 3 standard therapies are excluded from this study
  • Currently participating in or has participated in a study of an investigational agent or using an investigational device within 4 weeks prior to the first dose of study drug
  • Diagnosis of immunodeficiency or receiving systemic steroid therapy or any other form of immunosuppressive therapy within 7 days prior to the first dose of study drug
  • Not recovered from adverse events due to therapy more than 4 weeks earlier
  • Prior anti-cancer monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapy within 4 weeks prior to Study Day 1, or not recovered from adverse events
  • Prior chemotherapy, targeted small molecule therapy, or radiation therapy within 2 weeks prior to Study Day 1
  • Diagnosed and/or treated additional malignancy within 5 years of randomization, with the exception of curatively-treated basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma of the skin, and/or curatively-resected in situ cervical and/or breast carcinoma
  • Active autoimmune disease that has required systemic therapy in the past 2 years with modifying agents, corticosteroids, or immunosuppressive agents
  • Active central nervous system metastases and/or carcinomatous meningitis
  • Has a history of (noninfectious) pneumonitis/interstitial lung disease that required steroids or has current pneumonitis/interstitial lung disease
  • Active infection requiring systemic therapy
  • Pregnant, breastfeeding, or expecting to conceive or father children within the projected duration of the trial, starting with the screening visit through 180 days after the last dose of trial treatment for the chemotherapy arm or 120 days after the last dose of trial treatment for the pembrolizumab arm
  • Prior therapy with an anti-PD-1 or anti-PD1-L1 or -L2 therapy or previously participated in a Merck pembrolizumab (MK-3475) study
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) positive
  • Hepatitis B or C positive
  • Live vaccine within 30 days of planned start of study drug

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


None (Open label)

233 participants in 2 patient groups

Experimental group
Participants receive pembrolizumab 200 mg intravenously (IV) on Day 1 of each 3-week cycle (Q3W) until progressive disease (PD) or unacceptable toxicity for a maximum of up to 35 cycles (up to approximately 2 years). Eligible participants who stop pembrolizumab with Stable Disease (SD) or better but progress after discontinuation may be able to initiate a second course of pembrolizumab 200 mg Q3W for up to 17 cycles (up to approximately 1 additional year).
Biological: Pembrolizumab
Standard Treatment
Active Comparator group
Participants receive capecitabine 1000 mg/m^2 orally (PO) twice each day (BID) on Days 1-14 of each 3-week cycle, or gemcitabine 1250 mg/m^2 IV on Days 1 and 8 of each 3-week cycle, or docetaxel 75 mg/m^2 IV on Day 1 of each 3-week cycle until PD or unacceptable toxicity.
Drug: Gemcitabine
Drug: Docetaxel
Drug: Capecitabine

Trial documents

Trial contacts and locations



Data sourced from

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