ASCO must-reads: Pfizer's Ibrance; BMS, Novartis melanoma meds; J&J's Imbruvica and more

Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY), Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), Roche ($RHHBY), Pfizer ($PFE) and Novartis ($NVS) are just a handful of the drugmakers that rolled out data on their already-approved oncology meds at ASCO, showing their products had come up big in new studies. Check out the roundup below to see who could soon be adding new indications to their labels or moving their moneymakers into earlier lines of treatment.

  • In a Phase III study of 945 patients with previously untreated, advanced melanoma, Bristol-Myers Squibb's Opdivo more than doubled the average time to disease progression when compared with the company's Yervoy, extending that period to 6.9 months from Yervoy's 2.9. And a cocktail of both drugs produced an even greater benefit, bringing that time to 11.5 months. But pairing the two also increased the risk of side effects, which could offset the tandem's benefits for some patients. Story

  • Patients with previously treated chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) who received a three-drug cocktail of Imbruvica, Teva's ($TEVA) Treanda and Roche's Rituxan in a Phase III study recorded an 80% lower risk of disease progression or death than those who received placebo with the Treanda/Rituxan combo. It's the second time Imbruvica has hit its primary endpoint in progression-free survival in a Phase III study, which bodes well for the drug as makers Johnson & Johnson and AbbVie ($ABBV) try to move it up to first-line therapy. Story

  • In patients with relapsed, slow-growing non-Hodgkin lymphoma who'd failed on Roche's Rituxan, adding the Swiss drugmaker's Gazyva to Teva chemo drug Treanda more than doubled the average length of remission to 29.2 months, according to interim Phase III study results. That far outdid the 14 months solo Treanda posted, spurring investigators to halt the 396-patient trial early. With the help of this data--and an NHL regulatory filing based on it--Roche hopes Gazyva will one day supplant Rituxan on the front line. Story

  • Adding Pfizer's Ibrance to AstraZeneca's ($AZN) Faslodex more than doubled progression-free survival time, staving off breast cancer advancement by about 5 additional months in women with previously treated, estrogen-receptor-positive but HER2-negative forms of the disease. At the time of the interim analysis of Pfizer's PALOMA-3 trial, the average time to disease progression was 9.2 months, compared with 3.8 months in the placebo arm. While the data won't do too much for sales estimates--most patients will receive Ibrance as a first-line treatment--it will boost a launch the company says is already going strong. Story

  • Two is better than one when it comes to the melanoma treatments Novartis picked up from GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) in the pair's recent multibillion-dollar asset swap. In a Phase III study of patients with BRAF V600E/K mutation-positive metastatic melanoma, pairing Mekinist with Tafinlar showed a significant survival benefit over using Tafinlar on its own, with patients on the combo recording a median overall survival time of 25.1 months compared with 18.7 months on solo Tafinlar. Release