- In Check-Mate 12, a phase I study, combining two Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) immunotherapy drugs was both effective and safe in early-stage lung cancer patients.
- Combining Opdivo (nivolumab) with Yervoy (ipilumumab) increased survival rates in patients with both squamous and non-squamous lung cancer, according to preliminary data.
- Opdivo is indicated for treatment of advanced melanoma and squamous non-small cell lung cancer. Yervoy is indicated for treatment of melanoma.
This is not the first time that BMS has attempted to combine immunotherapy drugs. Previously, researchers combined Opdivo and Yervoy in patients with melanoma, and while there was some success, the side effects were worrisome.
In this phase I study of 148 patients, researchers combined Opdivo with smaller doses of Yervoy (1 mg vs standard 3-mg dosing) on a less frequent basis than normal. The result was improved survival rates in 39% of patients. From a tolerability perspective, it seemed that patients fared better in this trial versus previous Yervoy combo attempts. There was only a 10% or less drop-out rate in two of the four arms of the Check Mate-12 study.
When it comes to immuno-oncology, drugs like Opdivo are literally changing the treatment landscape—but learning to modulate and combine the drugs effectively and safely requires carefully designed clinical trials.
All told, investment analysts are expecting this class of drugs to generate $20 billion annually by 2020.