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Opdivo tops Yervoy in adjuvant melanoma trial

BMS’ nivolumab reduced the recurrence rate of melanoma compared to Yervoy

BMSTop-line results from a phase III trial pitting Bristol-Myers Squibb's Opdivo against Yervoy reveal a clear win for troubled PD-1 inhibitor in adjuvant melanoma therapy.

Opdivo (nivolumab) reduced the recurrence rate for patients with high-risk, advanced-stage melanoma who received the drug along with surgery compared to Yervoy (ipilimumab), BMS' older CTLA4 inhibitor for the skin cancer which while effective has a high side-effect burden.

The interim data is still preliminary but will be presented in greater detail at a forthcoming conference, but could be a boost for Opdivo at a time when its growth has been pegged back by some clinical failures in first-line non-small cell lung cancer and glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer.

Those knockbacks led EvaluatePharma to predict that Merck & Co's Keytruda (pembrolizumab) will topple Opdivo as the top-selling PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitor by 2022, a year when that class is predicted to make $30bn in sales worldwide.

Analysts at Leerink reckon that adjuvant melanoma could add around $1bn in sales potential to Opdivo, although some of that would come at the expense of some Yervoy sales. It's a positive trade-off - sales of the two immuno-oncology drugs were $1.13bn (up 60%) and $330m (up 25%) respectively in the first quarter of the year.

Leerink notes that the results of the trial were not expected until later this year so are an early surprise and should position Opdivo as "the standard of care in high-risk patients following surgical resection given its superior safety and tolerability profile relative to Yervoy".

"There remains an unmet need for additional options as the majority of stage III and resected stage IV high-risk melanoma patients experience disease recurrence after surgery," said Vicki Goodman, development lead for melanoma and genitourinary cancers at BMS.

"We are committed to researching therapies that may better meet the needs of this patient population and look forward to sharing these data with health authorities soon."

Article by
Phil Taylor

6th July 2017

From: Research

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