Monday, April 20, 2015

Anti-PD1 (Opdivo/Nivo and Keytruda/Pembro) effective in treating lung cancer! ($$$$$$$$$$$$$...)

Reuters report on Merck's Keytruda

In her report, author Deena Beasley states that Keytruda shrank tumors "in nearly half" of patients with squamous and non-squamous non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC), IF they had high levels of PD-L1.  Merck is seeking FDA approval of the drug for patients who have progressed despite previous treatment.  In the study noted, 495 NSCLC patients were tested.  Response rates (defined as tumor shrinkage of at least 30%) were influenced by the presence of PD-L1 expression on the tumor.  45% of patients with high PD-L1 levels responded vs only 16.5% of patients with lower (1-49%) expression of PD-L1, while patients with minimal PD-L1 expression (less than 1%) had a response rate of only 10.7%.  Overall, 19% of patients in this trial responded.  Side effects included thyroid problems as well as pneumonitis (seen in 3.6% of patients, from which one died).  Ms. Beasley also notes that as lung cancer kills approximately 160,000 Americans annually this population is the "biggest opportunity" for anti-PD1 drugs with sales expected to reach in the billions.

Reuters report on Bristol-Myers Squibb's Opdivo

In this article, author Ransdell Pierson reports that BMS halted the study "Checkmate-057" after an independent monitoring committee concluded Opdivo was better than standard chemo used in patients with previously treated nonsquamous NSCLS.  Opdivo is already FDA approved for squamous NSCLC.  Wall Street is expecting Opdivo to be the market leader of the anti-PD1 drugs with peak annual sales of $7 BILLION by 2020.

My thoughts:
1.  I hope they haven't once again made something that is truly more effective than the standard treatment available only after the failure of less effective treatments! I don't know the data for NSCLC well enough to say that this is actually the case.  But, I hope not.
2.  Poor little rich pharmaceutical companies.  Putting all that money into the care of us clinical trial ratties with never a hope of beginning to recoup their losses.  Oh my, oh my, oh my!  
3.  My condolences to the family who lost their loved one to pneumonitis.
4.  My best wishes to NSCLC patients who may have a chance now. 

To you all - I wish you well. - c

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