BMS — And Opdivo® — Well Ahead In Kidney Cancers @ ECCO 2015

Over the weekend (through to tonight), in Vienna, Austria, the ECCO (or European Cancer Conference) has been underway.

Just as we said it would, back in July 2015, BMS’s nivolumab has pretty much turned out to be the belle of the ball. Advanced renal (kidney) cancer is generally a pretty dire prognosis. But on Opdivo®, such patients saw on average, two years of added survival time — and that led researchers to end the study very early, and give all comers the study drug — for obvious ethical reasons.

This doesn’t mean Merck won’t eventually get Keytruda® approved for kidney cancer — but it does mean BMS is at least a year ahead. And it means that BMS is racking up lots of heavy burden of disease cancers — as the likely first mover. Here’s a bit from the New York Times, of Saturday:

. . . .[A] study of the drug nivolumab (sold as Opdivo), was stopped ahead of schedule because safety monitors found that patients receiving the drug were living longer than those in a comparison group taking the usual treatment, everolimus (sold as Afinitor). The study was halted for ethical reasons, to offer the comparison group nivolumab. . . .

Nivolumab belongs to a class of drugs called immune checkpoint inhibitors, which work by unleashing the patient’s own immune system to fight cancer. The new study included 821 patients with advanced kidney cancer. Half received nivolumab, and half everolimus. Of all who got nivolumab, 25 percent responded, meaning their tumors shrank significantly; only 5 percent responded to everolimus.

With nivolumab, the median survival was 25 months, compared with 19.6 months for everolimus. Patients taking nivolumab were also more likely to have lasting responses and fewer side effects like fatigue and nausea. . . .

Onward on a lovely fall Monday — one on which liquid (albeit briny) water has just been found to be presently flowing on. . . Mars. And that makes some form of life. . . at least a slightly closer possibility, there. What a time we are privileged to be living in. . . . Whoosh!

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