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Leapman MS, Presley CJ, Zhu W, Soulos PR, Adelson KB, Miksad RA, Boffa DJ, Gross CP. Association of Programmed Cell Death Ligand 1 Expression Status With Receipt of Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors in Patients With Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. JAMA Network Open. 2020 Jun 1; 3(6):e207205.
Importance: Initial approval for immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) for treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) was limited to patients with high levels of programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression. However, in the period after approval, it is not known how new evidence supporting efficacy of these treatments in patients with low or negative PD-L1 expression was incorporated into real-world practice. Objective: To evaluate the association between PD-L1 testing and first-line ICI use. Design, Setting, and Participants: This retrospective cohort study (January 1, 2011, to December 31, 2018) used a deidentified nationwide electronic health record-derived database reflecting real-world care at more than 280 US community and academic cancer clinics (approximately 800 sites of care). Patients included those with advanced NSCLC without other identifiable variations diagnosed in the period after the US Food and Drug Administration''s initial first-line approval of ICIs for patients with high PD-L1 expression ( = 50%). Exposure: First-line ICI treatment. Main Outcomes and Measures: Patterns of PD-L1 testing and first-line ICI treatment among all patients and patients stratified by tumor histologic type (squamous vs nonsquamous). Results: A total of 45?631 patients (mean [SD] age, 68.4 [9.6] years; 21?614 [47.4%] female) with advanced NSCLC were included in the study. PD-L1 testing increased from 468 (7.2%) in 2015 to 4202 (73.2%) in 2018. Within a subset of 7785 patients receiving first-line treatment in the period after first-line approval of pembrolizumab, those who received PD-L1 testing had a greater odds of receiving an ICI (odds ratio, 2.11; 95% CI, 1.89-2.36). Among patients with high PD-L1 expression ( = 50%), 1541 (83.5%) received first-line ICI treatment; 776 patients (40.3%) with low PD-L1 expression (1%-49%) and 348 (32.3%) with negative PD-L1 expression (0%) also received ICIs. In addition, 755 untested patients (32.8%) were treated with a first-line ICI. The proportion of patients who received ICIs without PD-L1 testing increased during the study period (59 [17%] in quarter 4 of 2016 to 141 [53.8%] in quarter 4 of 2018). Conclusions and Relevance: In this study, use of first-line ICI treatment increased among patients with advanced NSCLC with negative, low, or untested PD-L1 expression status in 2016 through 2018. These findings suggest that national practice was rapidly responsive to new clinical evidence rather than adhering to regulatory guidance in place at the time.