Study Reveals that Opdivo from Bristol-Myers extends survival in head and neck cancer


Apr 19, 2016

According to data from a late-stage study, the cancer immunotherapy drug of Bristol-Myers Squibb, Opdivo, assisted advanced head and neck cancer patients with a dismal prognosis live longer than other standard treatments.

Treatment with Opdivo led to a 30 percent reduction in risk of death, where median overall survival was 7.5 months in the 361-patient trial. This was better compared with 5.1 months for those who received any of three commonly used treatments chosen by researchers.

Some patients taking that type of immunotherapy experience far more durable responses, despite the fact that a median survival difference of less than three months may not sound like much. 36 percent of Opdivo patients were still alive after one year, compared with 16.6 percent of those who received either docetaxel, methotrexate, or Eli Lilly’s Erbitux, as reported by the researchers.

The results from this study paves the way for another approval for Opdivo, which is now approved in the treatment of advanced melanoma, kidney cancer, and non-small cell lung cancer.

Dr. Maura Gillison, the study’s lead investigator who presented the data at the American Association of Cancer Research meeting in New Orleans, said in an interview: “The most important thing is the difference in the proportion of patients who survived to a year. In a disease that was uniformly rapidly fatal, we’re seeing a subset of the population clearly benefiting.”


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