Pre-surgery use of Bristol's Opdivo 'safe and feasible' in lung cancer, study shows


COPENHAGEN, Denmark--Bristol-Myers Squibb’s first-line hopes for immuno-oncology star Opdivo recently took a gut check when the med flopped in a Phase III study. But now, researchers say there’s reason to be optimistic about a potential neoadjuvant nod for the medicine down the line.

Pre-surgery lung cancer treatment with the immunotherapy drug is “safe and feasible,” investigators reported Friday at the ESMO 2016 Congress. They reported results from 16 patients, among whom they found no significant safety concerns or delays to surgery after Opdivo treatment.

The study was the first to test a PD-1 treatment in early stage lung cancer; previously, trial data from Opdivo and its in-class competitors had only been reported in metastatic or advanced forms of the disease, lead study author Patrick Forde pointed out in a statement.

And these days--as the immuno-oncology space heats up--PD-1 and PD-L1 drugmakers are racing to stake their claims in markets yet untouched by the revolutionary cancer-fighters.

Bristol was doing just that with its quest to land a first-line lung cancer nod. Currently, it shares the second-line space with archrival Keytruda from Merck & Co., and both have Roche’s third-to-market Tecentriq, an FDA-designated breakthrough drug that’s nearing its first lung cancer nod, nipping at their heels.

Things didn’t exactly go as planned for the New Jersey pharma giant, though, which reported in August that the med had missed its mark in a key trial. Shares plunged accordingly, with Bernstein’s Tim Anderson writing to clients that the failure put Bristol “on its back foot from a commercial perspective.”

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