A trial of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (NYSE:BMY) Opdivo treatment has been concluded after proving it is effective against one of the most common forms of lung cancer. It is a significant achievement for the company as the drug is already approved for treatment of melanoma and lung cancer indications.
Bristol-Myers said that the trial known as ‘Checkmate-057’ was concluded before scheduled time. The decision was taken after an independent data monitoring group said that Opdivo resulted in a survival advantage compared to docetaxel, which is a standard form of chemotherapy, given to patients treated for ‘non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer.’ The PD-1 inhibitor functions by taking the brakes-off the immune system. It was permitted by U.S. regulators in March to treat the less-prevalent “squamous” form of NSCLC.
Bristol-Myers Opdivo drug, whose chemical name is ‘Nivolumab’, competes with Merck & Co., Inc.(NYSE:MRK)‘s Keytruda. It is also a PD-1 inhibitor that is permitted to treat melanoma and being tested against NSCLC. The rival drug candidates are also in studies against a variety of other cancers. Opdivo of Bristol-Myers is also accepted for use against metastatic melanoma after treatment with Yervoy.
The scope and competition
AstraZeneca plc (ADR)(NYSE:AZN), Pfizer Inc.(NYSE:PFE) and other drugmaker companies are working on their own PD-1 inhibitors. As per a report, the combined annual sale of these drugs is expected to cross $30 billion by 2025. The results from several studies of the promising new group of cancer drugs are slated to be released at the annual meeting of the AACR in Philadelphia.
For now, the latest announcement puts Bristol-Myers ahead of its peer including Merck, AstraZeneca and Roche Holding Ltd. (ADR)(OTCMKTS:RHHBY) which are developing similar drugs. The cancer treatments are associated with high prices and therefore the stakes are high. The Morningstar group expects Opdivo drug will generate annual sales of $12.2 billion by 2022.