Bristol-Myers says cancer drug combo reduces death risk

Galtero Lara
Abril 16, 2018

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY -5.3%) appears to be on the short end of its toe-to-toe data presentation with Merck (MRK +2.9%) in melanoma at the AACR Annual Meeting in Chicago.

The key measure of success for Bristol-Myers will be whether the Opdivo-Yervoy combination actually extends patients' lives, a measure known as overall survival. Bristol-Myers sank as much as 8.2 percent, its biggest drop since January 2017.

The combination demonstrated a higher rate of progression-free survival, compared with chemotherapy in a late-stage trial, the company said. Last week, Merck said Keytruda had succeeded in another study as a stand-alone treatment for some lung-cancer patients.

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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. Instead of a measure Bristol-Myers had used in past trials, it chose to target patients whose tumors have high levels of mutations, known as tumor mutation burden, or TMB. "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".

While good news for Bristol-Myers, it may not be enough to leapfrog Merck.

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