Pharma Strategy Blog

Commentary on Pharma & Biotech Oncology / Hematology New Product Development

Posts tagged ‘ipilimumab’

“Ipilimumab is not recommended for the treatment of advanced (unresectable or metastatic) malignant melanoma in people who have received prior therapy.

The Committee was satisfied that ipilimumab meets the criteria for being a life-extending, end-of-life treatment and that the trial evidence presented for this consideration was robust.

The Committee acknowledged that few advances had been made in the treatment of advanced melanoma in recent years and ipilimumab could be considered a significant innovation for a disease with a high unmet clinical need.

A Reuters press release on vemurafenib (Zelboraf) caught my eye this morning, suggesting that it might be approved in BRAFV600E metastatic melanoma by the FDA might be “imminent” according to an unnamed source and much earlier than the expected PDUFA date in November October 28th (now confirmed by Roche/Genentech).

If so, that’s very good news.

However, what really caught my eye was a quote from a spokesperson at Roche Diagnostics, suggesting that the BRAFV600E test would could around $150.  That’s lower than I was expecting, although no doubt it will be considerably offset by the cost of vemurafenib itself.


Well, after just getting back from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Chicago, I’m heading off to Europe for the European Hematology Association (EHA) meeting – no rest for the wicked!

ASCO was a rather flat meeting this year – the stars were undoubtedly the imatinib 36 vs 12 month data in adjuvant GIST (clearly superior) and Roche/Plexxikon/Daiichi Sankyo’s vemurafenib in BRAF V600E metastatic melanoma. The ipilimumab data was strangely disappointing in the upfront setting – only 2 months improvement in survival when added to DTIC.


Two of the most dynamic cancer markets at the moment are prostate cancer and metastatic melanoma, which is great news considering that neither has had much attention over the last decade compared to breast and lung cancers.

My colleague has posted an overview of what’s going on in advanced prostate cancer today, which you may be interested in checking out pre-ASCO.  However, what excited me this morning were announcements from BMS and Roche declaring their intent to pursue combination trials in BRAF metastatic melanoma with their therapies ipilimumab (Yervoy) and vemurafenib (PLX4032).

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This weekend I’m heading off to Chicago for the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).  I’ll be writing some in depth pieces and daily highlights from the conference, but in the meantime, many of you will be wondering what might be interesting amongst the 5,000 or so abstracts.

Here’s a quick snapshot of some data I’m looking forward to catching up on – there’s no clapperboard or guy with a teleprompter behind the camera, just a few ideas and some things to watch out for:


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Maybe two feet under snow really, judging by my back yard, which is largely sheltered and not prone to drifts. It looks like a pristine Winter Wonderland.

For once, the weathermen were right when they said a blizzard was coming.  Twitter and Foursquare are abuzz with people signing in or tweeting about #snowpocalypse2010, #snomageddon or #snomg in jest, but really it’s just a lot of noise about the first snowfall of the season.

The result out front on the street is a big mess though, as the howling wind, drifting snow and snow ploughs have created huge 6ft ridges behind which are parked cars in igloo like humps.  Glad I parked on the left hand side to avoid that conundrum 😉


Metastatic melanoma is quite a hot topic right now with a rich pipeline of products in development after a decade of little or no progress.  Of course, it is a bit like three London buses coming along at once after an hour long wait in the winter weather, but better late than never.

Many of you will remember the recent data from ipilimumab (BMS), an immunotherapy that showed increased survival, albeit with some severe adverse events, from the phase III trial in newly diagnosed metastatic melanoma presented at ASCO in the plenary session earlier this year, followed by a publication in the NEJM.  The FDA filing was subsequently submitted on the basis of the positive data.


Hot on the heels of last week's New England Journal of Medicine article on ipilimumab (BMS) comes another article on metastatic melanoma, this time from Keith Flaherty's group in Pennsylvania and Boston on BRAF inhibition with PLX4032, an exciting compound being developed by Plexxikon/Roche (see link below in the references for the article).

I've written a few posts on this interesting compound recently (e.g. here and here), for those interested in getting up to speed on the concept and data.


The latest New England Journal of Medicine dropped in the mail yesterday afternoon, it has some interesting articles on how palliation plus chemotherapy offers improved survival over chemo alone and a small study on the positive impact of T'ai Chi on fibromyalgia.  My attention, however, was drawn to the ipilimumab data in advanced metastatic melanoma.


Someone kindly sent me this paper on how gene expression can be used to track insufficient DNA repair, which can lead to relapse in melanoma, making it potentially useful as both a prognostic and predictive biomarker for the disease. Regular readers will notice that I am slowly changing my opinion of gene expression studies as a result of articles like this one :-).

According to the researchers:

"Over-expression of DNA repair genes was shown to be associated with reduced relapse-free survival, thicker tumors and tumors with higher mitotic rate.

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