- Recently, Bristol-Myers Squibb announced positive clinical trial results for Opdivo (nivolumab) in studies evaluating the drug for treatment of renal cell carcinoma (RCC). Exelixis also announced positive results in RCC trials for cabozantinib. Both drugs produced better outcomes compared to Novartis' Afinitor in trials.
- Novartis is pushing back, defending its drug by arguing that it is useful not only for treating renal cell cancer, but also breast cancer—and possibly other indications going forward.
- BMS stopped a trial early in which Afinitor was compared wiht Opdivo in treating RCC patients. The trial was stopped because the efficacy results favoring Opdivo were very strong.
It's been a good month for both BMS and Exelixis as they annouced positive results in RCC. For BMS' Opdivo, which is already indicated for treatment of advanced metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and advanced melanoma, adding on this indication would be a major boon to a drug that has 50 active trials in process.
As for Exelixis, the company plans to file for cabozantanib in both the U.S. and the E.U. early next year based on strong data in which cabozantanib reduced the risk of disease progression or death from metastatic RCC by 42%.
Novartis is defending its position, but very aware that the competitive landscape is shifting. The company notes that although Afinitor brought in $1.58 billion in revenues last year, the RCC only represents 22% of the business, while breast cancer sales represent roughly 50% of the business.