Safety of braf+mek inhibitor combinations: Severe adverse event evaluation

Tomer Meirson, Nethanel Asher, David Bomze, Gal Markel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Aim: The selective BRAF and MEK inhibitors (BRAFi+MEKi) have substantially improved the survival of melanoma patients with BRAF V600 mutations. However, BRAFi+MEKi can also cause severe or fatal outcomes. We aimed to identify and compare serious adverse events (sAEs) that are significantly associated with BRAFi+MEKi. Methods: In this pharmacovigilance study, we reviewed FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) data in order to detect sAE reporting in patients treated with the combination therapies vemurafenib+cobimetinib (V+C), dabrafenib+trametinib (D+T) and encorafenib+binimetinib (E+B). We evaluated the disproportionate reporting of BRAFi+MEKi-associated sAEs. Significant associations were further analyzed to identify combination-specific safety signals among BRAFi+MEKi. Results: From January 2018 through June 2019, we identified 11,721sAE reports in patients receiving BRAFi+MEKi. Comparison of BRAFi+MEKi combinations demonstrates that skin toxicities, including Stevens–Johnson syndrome, were disproportionally reported using V+C, with an age-adjusted reporting odds ratio (adj. ROR) of 3.4 (95% CI, 2.9–4.0), whereas fever was most significantly associated with D+T treatment with an adj. ROR of 1.9 (95% CI, 1.5–2.4). Significant associations using E+B treatment include peripheral neuropathies (adj. ROR 2.7; 95% CI, 1.2–6.1) and renal disorders (adj. ROR 4.1; 95% CI, 1.3–12.5). Notably, we found an increase in the proportion of Guillain–Barré syndrome reports (adj. ROR 8.5; 95% CI, 2.1–35.0) in patients administered E+B. Conclusion: BRAFi+MEKi combinations share a similar safety profile attributed to class effects, yet concomitantly, these combinations display distinctive effects that can dramatically impact patients’ health. Owing to the limitations of pharmacovigilance studies, some findings warrant further validation. However, the possibility of an increased risk for these events should be considered in patient care.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1650
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2020


FundersFunder number
Ella Lemelbaum Institute Funds
Samueli Foundation
Foulkes Foundation
Israel Science Foundation3495/19


    • BRAF and MEK inhibitors
    • Disproportionality analysis
    • Melanoma
    • Pharmacovigilance


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