- Bristol-Myers Squibb is pressing home on a key competitive advantage for Opdivo, emphasizing no biomarker testing is required for prescribing the cancer immunotherapy in an updated marketing campaign, FiercePharma notes.
- Opdivo has had a successful launch so far, racking up sales despite competition from Merck’s similar Keytruda, which shares many of the same indications. Unlike Opdivo, however, Keytruda requires testing to determine expression of a key protein known as PD-L1.
- In the first quarter, Opdivo hauled in $704 million in sales, compared to $249 million for Keytruda.
Opdivo and Keytruda were the first PD1/PDL1 checkpoint inhibitors approved in the U.S. Although Keytruda beat Opdivo to market, Opdivo has since been granted more indications than Keytruda.
Opdivo is now approved for varying levels of treatment in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), metastic melanoma, advanced renal cell carcinoma, and classic Hodgkin lymphoma.
Keytruda, on the other hand, is only approved for use in treating advanced melanoma and NSCLC. In NSCLC, patients must be first tested for PD-L1 expression by a companion diagnostic, a standard not required for Opdivo.
Both companies are working to further expand each drug’s list of approved indications, with the next battle likely in second-line treatment of metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.
Since September 2015, Bristol-Myers has spent $60 million on its ad campaign, with $2.3 million spent in the last week, FiercePharma reports. The updated campaign began on May 16.