Bristol-Myers grabs EU approval of key melanoma drug

As expected, the European Commission has approved Bristol-Myers Squibb's ($BMY) immunotherapy called Yervoy (ipilimumab) for melanoma that spreads to internal organs. And the company's European chief says that more collaborations like the one that brought the firm Yervoy are in the offing.

The commission approved Yervoy, which was previously available to some 3,000 patients in Europe under a compassionate use program, for patients who have been previously treated for the deadly skin cancer. The drug was approved in the U.S. back in March and has been celebrated for being the first treatment to extend the lives of patients with advanced melanoma.

Bristol-Myers gained control of the therapy through its acquisition of its collaborator Medarex, the developer of Yervoy. The pharma has since partnered with cancer drug powerhouse Roche on the melanoma drug, and its executives aim to keep the collaborations coming as part of its strategy to provide new treatments against tumors. Indeed, companies are banding together on the business side as cancer treatment on the clinical end of the spectrum moves toward use of more combination therapies.

"We will continue this strategy to seek and establish collaborations with other leading innovators across the globe," Ron Cooper, president of Bristol-Myers Squibb Europe, said. "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."

- here's the BMS release
- check out Reuters' coverage
- see the report in the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)