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Blood cancer sufferers to receive early access to BMS' Opdivo

Published on 03/11/16 at 05:05pm

Bristol-Myers Squibb has announced that their immunotherapy drug, Opdivo (nivolumab), will be made available to patients in the UK through the Early Access to Medicines Scheme (EAMS) by the Medicines Healthcare Products and Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The drug will be made available to patients suffering from relapsed or refractory classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL) as a monotherapy after autologous stem cell transplant and treatment with brentuximab vedotin.

The decision has been taken on the basis of Phase II trial data published in The Lancet Oncology. The data displayed that patients who were treated with Opdivo resulted in tumour reduction, with an objective response rate (proportion of patients with reduction in tumour burden of a predefined amount) of 66.3%.

Jonathan Pearce, chief executive of the Lymphoma Association, said: “It is vital that innovative treatments being developed are made available to lymphoma patients. We want everyone affected by lymphoma to receive the best possible treatment and care, and the more options there are to improve outcomes and quality of life for patients, the better.”

Opdivo belongs to a class of medicines called PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitors that work by harnessing the ability of the immune system to fight certain types of cancer, including classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL), advanced lung, skin and kidney cancer.

“Today’s decision will be very welcome news for clinicians and patients in the UK because it means that patients with classical Hodgkin lymphoma will have early access to nivolumab, a treatment that uses the body’s own immune system to fight the cancer.” said Dr. Graham Collins, consultant haematologist, Oxford University Hospitals Foundation Trust. “For patients whose disease has progressed after initial therapy, treatment options have previously been limited. From today, these sick and often young patients will potentially be able to benefit from this new and effective medicine which we hope will provide longer survival in these patients.”

Ben Hargreaves

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