Bristol-Myers Says Lung Cancer Drug Combination Met Trial Goal

Lung cancer patients were give two rounds of nivolumab before surgery

Lung cancer patients were give two rounds of nivolumab before surgery Credit Lung Cancer

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s drug cocktail for lung cancer patients with highly mutated tumors met a major goal of a late-stage study, an important step as the company tries to get the therapy used in newly diagnosed patients.

The results come a week after rival Merck & Co said a trial testing its blockbuster drug Keytruda as a monotherapy in previously untreated lung cancer patients was successful.

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Results from the Phase 3 CheckMate-227 study showed treatment with the combination of Opdivo (nivolumab) and Yervoy (ipilimumab) in first-line advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) significantly increased the progression-free survival rate compared to chemo (43% vs. 13%) in patients with high tumor mutational burden (TMB). Bristol-Myers had said in February that the trial succeeded but didn't provide specifics.

Merck's regimen, however, used a combination of Keytruda and chemotherapy. Credit Suisse said before the data were released that Bristol-Myers could fall as much as 6 percent if the results were disappointing.

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The trial also found that patients getting the Bristol-Myers drugs did better for longer. "All this study does is tell you that TMB is clearly one marker of many that now needs to be considered as we figure out how to use immunotherapy for lung cancer and tumors".

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