Biopharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb has found that a new drug combination can reduce death rates among those with advanced kidney cancer.
During trials, immunotherapy drug Opdivo and kinase inhibitor Cabometyx were shown to reduce the risk of death by kidney cancer by 40% when compared to Sutent, also a kinase inhibitor, and the former standard of care by Pfizer. Patients on the combination lived twice as long without their cancer progressing- an average of 16.6 months as opposed to 8.3 months for those on Sutent.
More than this, twice as many patients on Opdivo-Cabometyx responded to the treatment and saw long-lasting effects. While 27% of trial patients responded to Sutent, 56% benefited from the new drug combination. All in all, those on the combo responded for a median of 20.2 months, whereas those on Sutent responded for a median of 11.5 months.
As such, Bristol Myers is currently in the process of gaining the treatment FDA approval for the treatment and is advocating its use among those with advanced kidney cancer.
Although promising, the new drug combination seems to have similar efficacy to Merck’s own drug combination- Keytruda, an immunotherapy drug, and Inlya, a kinase inhibitor by Pfizer. Together, these drugs were able to cut the risk of death by between 41% and 46% among patients with the condition.
“The various combination treatments will unlikely be compared head-to-head,” says Toni Choueiri, MD of Dana-Farbar Cancer Institute and author of the Opdivo-Cabometyx trial. “But I think the quality of life could differentiate this new therapy, as there was a statistical significance favoring the combination arm with both questionnaires we used.”
Despite the optimism, many in the medical community are still uncertain as to whether treating cancer with two immunotherapies or immunotherapy alongside a kinase-inhibiting drug is better. However, as both seem to have similar effectiveness, some say that both should nevertheless be seen as a standard of care for first-line patients.