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. Overall survival, although preliminary, was also favorably impacted by the O/Y combination. A regimen of Bristol's Opdivo and Yervoy, two immuno-oncology drugs, cut the risk of cancer progression or death by 42% compared with chemotherapy. But it's unlikely to change standard of care for now, he said, with the combination of Merck & Co.'s Keytruda and chemotherapy probably remaining the first choice. Bristol-Myers said in February that the trial succeeded, but didn't provide specifics.
Bristol-Myers needed a home run to close the gap with Merck, which won approval for Keytruda in lung cancer last May based on an early trial.
Both firms tested drugs that harness a patient's immune system to fight cancer. "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". Credit Suisse said before the data were released that Bristol-Myers could fall as much as 6 percent if the results were disappointing.
While good news for Bristol-Myers, it may not be enough to leapfrog Merck.