Bristol-Myers Squibb today announced that the European Commission (EC) has approved YERVOY™ (ipilimumab) for the treatment of adult patients with previously-treated advanced melanoma.
YERVOY, an innovative immunotherapy, showed long-term survival in the treatment of patients with advanced melanoma in a randomised, double-blind Phase III study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in June 2010. Based on the survival (Kaplan-Meier) curve, the 1 and 2-year estimated survival rates for patients treated with YERVOY were 46% and 24% respectively vs. 25% and 14% in the comparator arm with some patients alive at 3 and 4 years.
“With the approval of YERVOY physicians now have an important new option to offer to patients with metastatic melanoma. This is a chance of not just months but potentially 3 to 4 years of prolonged survival for some patients in the treatment of metastatic melanoma,” comments Professor Alexander Eggermont, General Director, Institut Gustave Roussy, Paris, France. “There is hope that YERVOY’s novel mode of action, together with the fact that the recommended complete course of treatment with YERVOY (3 mg/kg) includes 4 infusions over 3 months, could potentially change the way we treat patients with previously treated advanced melanoma. It is an example of what can be done through unleashing the power of one’s own immune response.”
Bristol-Myers Squibb will now work closely with local health authorities to expedite the availability of YERVOY across the European Union. Prior to approval, the Company provided ipilimumab to nearly 3,000 patients throughout Europe through Compassionate Use / Named Patient Programmes. The Company remains committed to helping ensure that appropriate patients who need YERVOY will receive it while the reimbursement process is finalised by the relevant authorities throughout Europe.
Ron Cooper, President Bristol-Myers Squibb Europe, stated: “With an average survival time on diagnosis of 6-9 months, patients with advanced melanoma have had little hope – until now. The European Union approval of YERVOY is a milestone for patients with advanced disease and is the first outcome of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s commitment to immuno-oncology. Through the Bristol-Myers Squibb String of Pearls strategy, we began a collaboration with Medarex, acquired the company and developed YERVOY. We will continue this strategy to seek and establish collaborations with other leading innovators across the globe. Through these and other initiatives we work towards our single mission: to discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases.”
YERVOY represents a new treatment paradigm in the evolving discipline of immuno-oncology. It indirectly targets the tumour by stimulating the patient’s immune system to recognise and destroy cancer cells. YERVOY specifically blocks cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTL4), which plays a role in suppressing the normal immune response. YERVOY blocks that suppression to allow the immune system to respond to melanoma cancer cells.
The types of adverse events (AEs) attributed to YERVOY are generally mechanism (immune)-based. YERVOY can result in severe and fatal immune-related adverse reactions due to T-cell activation and proliferation. These immune-mediated reactions may involve any organ system; however, the most common severe immune-mediated adverse reactions are enterocolitis, hepatitis, dermatitis (including toxic epidermal necrolysis), neuropathy, and endocrinopathy. The majority of these immune-mediated reactions initially manifested during treatment; however, a minority occurred weeks to months after discontinuation of YERVOY. Patients should be assessed for signs and symptoms of enterocolitis, dermatitis, neuropathy and endocrinopathy and clinical chemistries should be evaluated, including liver function tests and thyroid function tests, at baseline and before each dose.
Adverse events associated with YERVOY are managed with protocol-specific guidelines, including the administration of systemic corticosteroids, dose interruption/discontinuation and/or other immunosuppressants.