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BMS Receives FDA Approval for Opdivo (nivolumab) + Yervoy (ipilimumab) Regimen in BRAF V600 Wild-Type Melanoma

PRINCETON, N.J., October 1, 2015 --(BUSINESS WIRE)--Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE: BMY) today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Opdivo (nivolumab) in combination with Yervoy (ipilimumab), for the treatment of patients with BRAF V600 wild-type unresectable or metastatic melanoma.1 Today’s announcement marks the first and only FDA approval of a Regimen of two Immuno-Oncology agents in cancer. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and durability of response.1 Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trials.1

The approval is based on data from the pivotal study, CheckMate -069, which was the first to report outcomes of the Opdivo + Yervoy Regimen in previously untreated patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma. Results from the trial demonstrated a statistically significant (p<0.001) increase in confirmed objective response rate – the study’s primary endpoint – in patients with BRAF wild-type melanoma treated with the Opdivo + Yervoy Regimen [60% (95% CI: 48-71; p<0.001)] compared to those treated with Yervoy monotherapy [11% (95% CI: 3-25)]. Complete responses were seen in 17% of patients. Partial responses were seen in 43% of the Regimen group and 11% of the Yervoy monotherapy group. The Opdivo + Yervoy Regimen demonstrated a 60% reduction in the risk of progression vs. Yervoy alone (HR=0.40; 95% CI: 0.22-0.71; p<0.002). Median PFS was 8.9 months with the Regimen (95% CI: 7.0, NA) and 4.7 months with Yervoy alone (95% CI: 2.8-5.3).1 This trial provides clinical rationale for targeting the immune system with two Immuno-Oncology agents in metastatic melanoma.

Opdivo is associated with immune-mediated: pneumonitis, colitis, hepatitis, endocrinopathies, nephritis and renal dysfunction, rash, other adverse reactions; infusion reactions; and embryofetal toxicity.1 Please see the Important Safety Information section below, including Boxed WARNING for Yervoy regarding immune-mediated adverse reactions.

“Targeting the immune system in the treatment of cancer has been of interest to the oncology community for decades,4 and our first Immuno-Oncology agent, Yervoy, was approved in 2011 for metastatic melanoma. Opdivo reinforced the power of the immune system in the fight against cancer, and is quickly becoming a foundational component in how the oncology community treats this devastating disease,” said Giovanni Caforio, chief executive officer, Bristol-Myers Squibb. “Today’s approval of the Opdivo + Yervoy Regimen marks another first for our research in Immuno-Oncology and represents our unwavering commitment to continually redefine cancer care, and offer patients new treatment options with the goal of improved outcomes.”

About the Opdivo + Yervoy Regimen: Advancing Metastatic Melanoma Treatment

CheckMate -069 is a Phase 2, double-blind, randomized study which enrolled 140 patients with previously untreated unresectable or metastatic melanoma,1 and included patients with both BRAF wild-type and BRAF mutation-positive melanoma.2 The primary endpoint was objective response rate (ORR) in patients with BRAF wild-type tumors.1 Additional efficacy outcome measures were investigator-assessed duration of response and progression-free survival (PFS) in patients with BRAF V600 wild-type melanoma. Randomization was stratified by BRAF mutation status.2 The Regimen includes four cycles of the Opdivo + Yervoy combination followed by Opdivo monotherapy.1 In the clinical study, patients in the Opdivo + Yervoy Regimen group received Opdivo 1mg/kg plus Yervoy 3mg/kg every 3 weeks for 4 doses during the combination phase, followed by Opdivo 3mg/kg every 2 weeks during the monotherapy phase. Treatment was continued until progression or unacceptable toxicity.1 In the Yervoy monotherapy group, patients were treated with Yervoy 3mg/kg every 3 weeks for 4 doses with matched placebo.1 Of the 95 patients randomized to receive the Opdivo + Yervoy Regimen, 50% were 65 years or older and 13% were 75 years or older.3 Fifty-nine percent of patients completed all 4 doses in the initial combination phase over a median of 9.1 weeks (range: 9.0 weeks to 26.3 weeks).1

Among patients (n=109) with BRAF wild-type melanoma, the Regimen demonstrated a significantly superior response rate of 60% (95% CI: 48-71; p<0.001) vs. Yervoy alone, 11% (95% CI: 3-25).1 Seventeen percent of patients experienced a complete response in the BRAF wild-type population.1 Partial responses were seen in 43% of the Regimen group and 11% of the Yervoy monotherapy group.1 Seventy-nine percent (34/43) of patients had ongoing responses of at least 6 months at the time of analysis. Of these patients, 14 had a duration of response of at least 6 months but less than 9 months, and 20 patients had a duration of response of at least 9 months. The remaining 21% (9/43) of patients had a duration of response ranging from 3 to 7 months and have progressed after response, died, or received subsequent therapy.1 Along with higher ORR and more complete responses, the Opdivo + Yervoy Regimen demonstrated a 60% reduction in the risk of progression among BRAF wild-type patients vs. Yervoy alone (HR=0.40, 95% CI: 0.22-0.71; p<0.002).1 Median PFS was 8.9 months with the Regimen (95% CI: 7.0, NA) and 4.7 months with Yervoy alone (95% CI: 2.8-5.3).1

“Historically, metastatic melanoma has been a difficult disease to treat.6 Now, a new treatment option based on the combination of two valued Immuno-Oncology agents demonstrates significant efficacy versus ipilimumab (Yervoy) in metastatic melanoma,”2 said Jedd D. Wolchok, MD, PhD, Chief, Melanoma and Immunotherapeutics Service, Department of Medicine and Ludwig Center at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “Today’s approval represents a step forward for the melanoma community, providing hope for patients with metastatic melanoma.”

In CheckMate -069, serious adverse reactions (62% vs. 39%), adverse reactions leading to permanent discontinuation (43% vs. 11%) or dose delays (47% vs. 22%), and Grade 3 or 4 adverse reactions (69% vs. 43%) all occurred more frequently in patients receiving the Opdivo + Yervoy Regimen compared with those receiving Yervoy alone. In the Opdivo + Yervoy Regimen group, 27% (25/94) of patients did not complete all four cycles of the Opdivo + Yervoy Regimen. The first occurrence of a Grade 3 or 4 adverse reaction was during administration of the Opdivo + Yervoy Regimen in 56 patients (59%), while 9 patients (10%) experienced first occurrence of a Grade 3 or 4 adverse reaction during administration of Opdivo alone.

The most common adverse reactions leading to discontinuation of Opdivo, as compared to Yervoy alone, were colitis (16% vs. 2%), diarrhea not treated with corticosteroids (4% vs. 4%), increased ALT levels (4% vs. 0), pneumonitis (3% vs. 0), and AST increase (3% vs. 0). The most frequent serious adverse events with the Opdivo + Yervoy Regimen, as compared to Yervoy alone, were colitis (17% vs. 9%), diarrhea (9% vs. 7%), pyrexia (6% vs. 7%), and pneumonitis (5% vs. 0). The most common adverse reactions (≥20%) reported in patients receiving the Opdivo + Yervoy Regimen vs. Yervoy alone were rash (67% vs. 57%), pruritus (37% vs. 26%), headache (24% vs. 20%), vomiting (23% vs. 15%), and colitis (22% vs. 11%).

“We are currently witnessing a turning point in cancer history, based on the significant impact Immuno-Oncology is making in the lives of patients with metastatic melanoma. Today’s approval of the first Regimen of two Immuno-Oncology agents, Opdivo and Yervoy, is an exciting moment for our community because it reinforces we are on a positive path forward, providing new approaches which translate into meaningful results for patients,” said Tim Turnham, Executive Director, Melanoma Research Foundation.

About the Opdivo + Yervoy Regimen

The scientific rationale for targeting the immune system via dual immune checkpoint inhibition in cancer has formed the basis of a novel approach to the treatment of metastatic melanoma.4

“At Bristol-Myers Squibb, we have been at the forefront of researching the potential of two different immune checkpoint pathways – CTLA-4 and PD-1 – in the treatment of cancer,” said Francis Cuss, MB BChir, FRCP, executive vice president and chief scientific officer, Bristol-Myers Squibb. “From initial pre-clinical research, to pivotal studies resulting in regulatory approval of Yervoy and Opdivo as monotherapies, to today’s FDA approval, we are proud to be leading the way in bringing a dual Immuno-Oncology Regimen to cancer patients for the first time.”

Cancer cells may exploit “regulatory” pathways, such as checkpoint pathways, to hide from the immune system and shield the tumor from immune attack.4 Opdivo and Yervoy are immune checkpoint inhibitors that target separate, distinct and complementary checkpoint pathways (PD-1 and CTLA-4).4 The mechanism of action involves dual immune checkpoint inhibition resulting in increased anti-tumor activity.5 Yervoy blockade of CTLA-4 has been shown to augment T-cell activation and proliferation,4 while Opdivo restores the active T-cell response directed at the tumor.4 This may affect healthy cells and result in immune-mediated adverse reactions, which can be severe and potentially fatal.4

Opdivo is a programmed death-1 (PD-1) immune checkpoint inhibitor that has received approval from the FDA in other indications, including metastatic squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with progression on or after platinum-based chemotherapy.

Bristol-Myers Squibb has a broad, global development program to study the combination of Opdivo and Yervoy consisting of more than 14 trials in which more than 2,000 patients have been enrolled worldwide through September 2015.

About Metastatic Melanoma

Melanoma is a form of skin cancer characterized by the uncontrolled growth of pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) located in the skin.6 Metastatic melanoma is the deadliest form of the disease, and occurs when cancer spreads beyond the surface of the skin to other organs.6 The incidence of melanoma has been increasing for at least 30 years.6 An estimated 73,870 melanoma cases will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2015.6 Melanoma is mostly curable when treated in its early stages.6 However, in its late stages, 5-year and 10-year survival rates in the U.S. average 15-20% and 10-15%, respectively.6

About Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Patient Support Programs

Bristol-Myers Squibb remains committed to helping patients access our medicines. For support and assistance, patients and physicians may call 1-855-OPDIVO-1. This number offers one-stop access to a range of support services for patients and healthcare professionals alike.

About Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Access Support

Bristol-Myers Squibb is committed to helping patients access the Opdivo + Yervoy Regimen and offers BMS Access Support® to support patients and providers in gaining access. BMS Access Support, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Reimbursement Services program, is designed to support access to BMS medicines and expedite time to therapy through reimbursement support including Benefit Investigations, Prior Authorization Facilitation, Appeals Assistance, and assistance for patient out-of-pocket costs. BMS Access Support assists patients and providers throughout the treatment journey – whether it is at initial diagnosis or in support of transition from a clinical trial. More information about our reimbursement support services can be obtained by calling 1-800-861-0048 or by visiting For healthcare providers seeking specific reimbursement information, please visit the BMS Access Support Product section by visiting

About the Bristol-Myers Squibb and Ono Pharmaceutical Collaboration

In 2011, through a collaboration agreement with Ono Pharmaceutical, Bristol-Myers Squibb expanded its territorial rights to develop and commercialize nivolumab globally except in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, where Ono had retained all rights to the compound at the time. On July 23, 2014, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Ono Pharmaceutical further expanded the companies’ strategic collaboration agreement to jointly develop and commercialize multiple immunotherapies – as single agents and combination regimens – for patients with cancer in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

About Bristol-Myers Squibb

Bristol-Myers Squibb is a global biopharmaceutical company whose mission is to discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases. For more information about Bristol-Myers Squibb, visit, or follow us on Twitter at

Bristol-Myers Squibb Forward Looking Statement

This press release contains "forward-looking statements" as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 regarding the research, development and commercialization of pharmaceutical products. Such forward-looking statements are based on current expectations and involve inherent risks and uncertainties, including factors that could delay, divert or change any of them, and could cause actual outcomes and results to differ materially from current expectations. No forward-looking statement can be guaranteed. Among other risks, there can be no guarantee that the Opdivo + Yervoy Regimen will become a commercially successful product. Forward-looking statements in this press release should be evaluated together with the many uncertainties that affect Bristol-Myers Squibb's business, particularly those identified in the cautionary factors discussion in Bristol-Myers Squibb's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2014 in our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and our Current Reports on Form 8-K. Bristol-Myers Squibb undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.


  1. Opdivo U.S. Product Information. Last updated: September 30, 2015.
  2. New England Journal of Medicine. “Nivolumab and Ipilimumab versus Ipilimumab in Untreated Melanoma” Available at Accessed on September 23, 2015.
  3. Bristol-Myers Squibb Data on File.
  4. American Cancer Society. “Cancer Immunotherapy.” Available at Accessed on September 23, 2015.
  5. Nature Reviews Cancer. “The Blockade of Immune Checkpoints in Cancer Immunotherapy.” Available at Accessed on September 24, 2015.
  6. American Cancer Society. “Melanoma.” Available at Accessed on September 23, 2015.

Source: Bristol-Myers Squibb Company

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