Now cancer-free after Keytruda combo, Poison drummer Rikki Rockett ready to spread the word

Merck’s Keytruda may have found itself an unexpected ambassador. Rikki Rockett, drummer for the rock band Poison, has announced that his oral cancer is gone after experimental treatment with a Keytruda combo.

And Rockett isn’t just happy to spread his personal news via Billboard and People. He tells Blabbermouth that he wants to evangelize for immunotherapy, too.

His testimony goes beyond the fact that he’s cancer-free: Rockett said the side effects of the combo regimen--which pairs Keytruda with Incyte’s experimental IDO inhibitor, epacadostat--were minimal.


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"My hope going forward is that by talking to other cancer patients, I might be able to lessen their pain and suffering," Rockett said (as quoted by the online pub). "I know from experience that chemotherapy and radiation are not fun. If I can help anyone else, it would help give reason to what I went through.”

Rockett was treated at the Moores Cancer Center of UC San Diego. He posted the news on Instagram, with a photo of him alongside his oncologist, Dr. Ezra Cohen. Rockett isn’t the only well-known patient whose cancer was eradicated with Keytruda therapy. President Jimmy Carter announced himself cured of melanoma last year, after treatment with the Merck med.


A photo posted by Rikki Rockett (@rikkirockett) on

The Poison rocker won fame in the mid-1980s, when songs such as “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” and “Talk Dirty to Me” were top 10 singles. The band got back together in the 2000s after a successful 1999 reunion tour and went on to release several new albums.

He’s a very different unofficial spokesman from Carter, of course, but might appeal to a different demographic and, like Michael Douglas before him, raise cancer awareness.

Keytruda is already FDA-approved for melanoma and lung cancer, and Merck’s application for a new indication in head and neck cancer is pending. The drug is in testing for a wide variety of cancers in an even wider variety of immuno-therapy cocktails.

- see the Blabbermouth story

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