Bristol Myers Squibb's Opdivo-Yervoy combo helps mesothelioma patients live longer

opdivo
Opdivo, in combination with Yervoy, is awaiting non-small cell lung cancer decisions from the FDA, set for May and August. (Bristol-Myers Squibb)

Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo-Yervoy combo is awaiting some critical decisions in non-small cell lung cancer, but in the meantime, it’s making its mark in a smaller indication, too.

The immuno-oncology duo topped chemo at extending the lives of phase 3 trial patients with previously untreated malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), the company said Monday.

The rare cancer, which forms in the lining of the lungs, is most commonly caused by asbestos exposure. It's also a lethal one: On average, patients live for less than one year, and only 10% make it to the five-year mark post-diagnosis, BMS said.

Sept. 15-17,2020

Cytiva Virtual Event: Tapas & Tech Talks Copy - Strategies for robust and scalable

Strategies for robust and scalable processes: from research through late-stage trials
(with Cytiva and IQVIA)

Bristol will present the full results at a future medical meeting, but between now and then, it’ll be discussing them with global regulators.

RELATED: Bristol Myers Squibb snags new liver cancer nod for Opdivo-Yervoy combo

An indication in MPM would add another notch to the pairing’s belt. The regimen already bears go-aheads in melanoma, kidney cancer and liver cancer, among others.

SPECIAL REPORT: The 10 most-anticipated drug launches of 2020

Unlike in those hotly contested areas, though, no members of Opdivo’s PD-1/PD-L1 currently boast an MPM green light. Opdivo's archrival, Keytruda, last year suffered a rare phase 3 miss in second-line patients, failing to improve survival outcomes against chemo, Leerink Partners analyst Daina Graybosch wrote in a Monday note to clients.

Still, an approval wouldn't make much of a mark for Bristol sales-wise. About 3,300 new mesothelioma cases are reported in the U.S. each year, and that number "is declining, due to reduced population-wide exposure to asbestos," Graybosch wrote.

RELATED: BMS nets another Opdivo lung cancer win—but it still has to beat Merck's high bar

The real highlights for the checkpoint inhibitor combo could come later this year with nods in the ultra-lucrative non-small cell lung cancer field.

Bristol has watched from the sidelines for years as Merck’ has gobbled up market share with its Keytruda-chemo combo, but it’s finally up for some FDA decisions of its own: The agency is set to decide on Opdivo-Yervoy in previously treated patients by May 15 and on Opdivo-Yervoy-chemo in the same population by August 6.

Suggested Articles

After a slow start, Teva's Ajovy launch is improving following the FDA approval for an autoinjector.

After Trump's "Buy American" executive order for essential medicines, the pharma industry is pushing back.

The U.S. is slamming the brakes on its $765 million loan to Kodak amid insider trading allegations and questions about its fitness for the job.