Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) today announced positive top-line results from the pivotal Phase III JAVELIN Renal 101 study evaluating BAVENCIO® (avelumab) in combination with INLYTA® (axitinib), compared with SUTENT® (sunitinib) as initial therapy for patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC). As part of a planned interim analysis, an independent Data Monitoring Committee confirmed that the trial showed a statistically significant improvement in progression-free survival (PFS) by central review for patients treated with the combination whose tumors had programmed death ligand-1‒positive (PD-L1+) expression greater than 1% (primary objective), as well as in the entire study population regardless of PD-L1 tumor expression (secondary objective). According to the statistical analysis plan, if PFS was statistically significant in the PD-L1+ subgroup, then PFS in the entire study population was to be analyzed for statistical significance. JAVELIN Renal 101 will continue as planned to the final analysis for the other primary endpoint of overall survival (OS). No new safety signals were observed, and adverse events for BAVENCIO, INLYTA and SUTENT in this trial were consistent with the known safety profiles for all three medicines. The alliance intends to pursue a regulatory submission in the US based on these interim results, and these results will be discussed with global health authorities. A detailed analysis will also be submitted for presentation at an upcoming medical congress.