Bristol-Myers Squibb Bucks Trend Toward Precision Medicine - (The Wall Street Journal via NewsPoints Desk)

  • Bristol-Myers Squibb has distinguished itself from its competitors by using a "mass-marketing" approach to sell its cancer immunotherapy Opdivo, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • The company said that physicians are prescribing Opdivo to more than 60 percent of new lung cancer patients in the US who are eligible for treatment with the drug.
  • The drugmaker indicated that unlike treatments such as Merck & Co.'s Keytruda, doctors can prescribe Opdivo without ordering diagnostic tests from companies such as Quest Diagnostics to identify patients who would benefit from the therapy.
  • Unlike Merck, which focused on identifying PD-L1-positive patients in clinical studies of Keytruda, Bristol-Myers Squibb was unsure on how well PD-L1 positivity would predict response to Opdivo and subsequently chose to include patients whose tumours expressed varying levels of the protein in clinical studies.
  • Sales of Opdivo have climbed faster than anticipated, while Leerink Partners analyst Seamus Fernandez suggests sales of the drug could exceed $23 billion by 2020, while Bristol-Myers Squibb recorded combined sales of $2.1 billion last year for Opdivo and the immunotherapy Yervoy.
  • Although both Opdivo and Yervoy are currently approved for use in patients who did not respond to prior therapies, both Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck are aiming to win approval of their drugs as first-line treatments for lung cancer.

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