- Novartis is testing three of its lung cancer drugs in combination with Bristol-Myers Squibb's PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitor Opdivo (nivolumab) for treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
- One of the drugs being tested is Zykadia (ceritinib), which was recently approved.
- Opdivo is at the forefront of the immunotherapy revolution; however, though it is approved in Japan, it has not yet received FDA approval in the United States.
On September 9, Biopharma Dive reported on the fallout after the first PD-1 checkpoint drug, Keytruda (pembrolizumab), was approved ahead of Opdivo. BMS chose to sue Merck based on allegations that it had violated certain modes of action-related patents. Despite this, BMS is moving forward with Opdivo by continuing to usher it through the FDA approval process and by testing it in conjunction with other cancer treatments and partnering with other companies. The underlying logic is that combining molecularly-targeted treatments with immunotherapy treatments creates effective synergies. Unlocking those synergies would be a good thing in this case, as there is a significant unmet medical need associated with NSCLC.