Bristol's Opdivo-Yervoy combo ups response rates in first-line lung cancer patients

CHICAGO--Bristol-Myers Squibb's checkpoint inhibitor Opdivo and older immunotherapy Yervoy already have FDA approval to attack melanoma with a one-two punch. Now, the duo have racked up new data for a combo approach in first-line lung cancer, too.

Study results presented at this year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting here showed that 57% of lung cancer patients in the Opdivo/Yervoy combo arm responded to the treatment. That response rate more than doubled the 28% Opdivo had previously posted on its own.

The Phase Ib study focused on non-small cell lung cancer patients who hadn’t yet undergone chemo treatment and whose tumors expressed 1% PD-L1 or more.

And patients with greater levels of PD-L1 saw their response rates increase, too. Those with 50% PD-L1 expression or greater put up a 92% response rate when treated with the tandem--results Bristol’s global clinical research lead in oncology, Jean Viallet, called “compelling.”

An Opdivo-Yervoy nod in first-line NSCLC could benefit Bristol-Myers, which is battling Merck--maker of rival immunotherapy Keytruda--for market share. While Keytruda was the first checkpoint inhibitor to hit the scene--as a treatment for melanoma--Opdivo quickly caught up and bounded ahead, putting away go-aheads for melanoma, NSCLC and kidney cancer.

Both companies are still working to add new indications and break into new patient groups in their quest to rack up sales. And they recently got another challenger in the form of Roche’s Tecentriq, an immuno-oncology med the Swiss drugmaker is testing in a raft of tumor types.

- read Bristol's release

Special Reports: The top 15 pharma companies by 2014 revenue - Bristol-Myers Squibb | Top 20 orphan drugs by 2018 - Yervoy

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