BMS and Merck Race to Melanoma Treatment Market

September 16, 2014
The Pharm Exec staff

Pharmaceutical Executive

Merck’s Keytruda, recently approved in the US to treat patients with advanced melanoma that have stopped responding to other cancer therapies, will soon face strong competition from Bristol-Myers Squibb’s (BMS) Opdivo, an analyst from research and consulting firm GlobalData has reported.

Merck’s Keytruda, recently approved in the US to treat patients with advanced melanoma that have stopped responding to other cancer therapies, will soon face strong competition from Bristol-Myers Squibb’s (BMS) Opdivo,  an analyst from research and consulting firm GlobalData has reported.

Keytruda is the US’s first-to-market therapy that targets the programmed cell death receptor-1 (PD-1), better enabling the immune system to fight cancer. However, according to GlobalData’s Fenix Leung, BMS’s Opdivo could receive approval from the European Medicines Agency for first-line melanoma treatment as early as Q2 2015.

Leung added that BMS is clearly working on a tight deadline to push Opdivo ahead of Keytruda in the EU.

Opdivo’s Phase III CheckMate-067 trial included an investigation of a Yervoy/Opdivo combination, which showed unmatched efficacy in a Phase 1b trial. The median overall survival of patients was 40 months, more than double that of either drug alone.

Leung commented: “Combination strategies are essential in the race to capture a large share of one of the most promising markets in cancer immunotherapy… Nonetheless, we will need to wait for the safety results from the CheckMate-067 trial, due in the fall of 2016, to gain an improved understanding of the Yervoy/Opdivo combination’s safety profile prior to approval in either the US or EU.”

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