The drug: Nivolumab
The disease: Cancer immunotherapy
The developer: Bristol-Myers Squibb
Peak sales potential: Analysts have pegged peak sales potential at around $6 billion for nivolumab and the breakthrough BMS drug Yervoy. Tim Anderson at Bernstein, not quick to hand out huge peak sales estimates, put his projection for nivolumab at $4 billion, somewhat ahead of the competition.
The scoop: Two years ago at ASCO the dealmakers were circulating the halls in search of new immunotherapy programs to bargain over. This past summer, the first round of human data started coming in in a big way, and the incredible promise of these therapies to add significantly to survival times, after years of incremental steps, moved drugs like nivolumab directly to center stage at the big cancer meeting in Chicago.
Quite a lively conversation is going on related to who's in the lead here. Bristol-Myers Squibb's ($BMY) therapy has produced some startling data. Nivolumab's claim to fame as a breakthrough melanoma therapy was enhanced by long-term results from their Phase I study, which show that the PD-1 drug demonstrated durable responses among a significant group of patients with Stage IV melanoma. Close to a third of the patients in the study experienced tumor shrinkage, compared to a historical trend rate of 5% to 10% for Yervoy, Bristol-Myers' pioneering immunotherapy for this disease.
Bristol-Myers isn't wasting any time in exploring the full potential for this therapy. It has 6 late-stage studies under way for nivolumab, with fast-track status in place for melanoma, lung cancer and kidney cancer. If the data continue to come in to support these early results, Bristol-Myers will have a major new therapy to rely on.
Special Report: Top 10 experimental cancer drugs - 2013
Cancer immunotherapies turn a corner in race to megablockbuster market
Merck's 'breakthrough' PD-1 cancer drug in showdown with Bristol-Myers combo
Bristol-Myers' immunotherapy drug nivolumab takes center stage at ASCO
Next-gen cancer immunotherapies will step into the spotlight at ASCO