FDA Grants Nivolumab Priority Review in Nonsquamous NSCLC

“Nivolumab (Opdivo) has received an FDA priority review designation for patients with previously treated nonsquamous non­–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), according to the developer of the PD-1 inhibitor, Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS). Under the expedited process, the FDA’s decision deadline is January 2, 2016.

“The FDA simultaneously granted nivolumab a breakthrough therapy designation in this setting. The priority and breakthrough designations are based on data from the phase III CheckMate-057 trial, in which second-line nivolumab reduced the risk of death by 27% versus docetaxel in patients with nonsquamous NSCLC, including a 60% risk reduction among patients with the highest levels of PD-L1 expression.

“Nivolumab was previously approved in March 2015 for patients with squamous cell NSCLC who have progressed on or after platinum-based chemotherapy.”


FDA Grants Orphan Drug Designation to MTG-201 for Malignant Mesothelioma

“The FDA granted orphan drug designation to MTG-201 for the treatment of patients with malignant mesothelioma, according to a press release.

“MTG-201 (MTG Biotherapeutics) is an advanced biologic therapy that targets Dickkopf-3 gene defects in various cancer types. The Dickkopf-3 gene produces the REIC protein, without which cancer cells can not die.

“MTG-201 directly attacks mesothelioma cancer cells and induces immune system response, and may be used in combination with anti–CTLA-4 therapies in development for the disease.

“In addition, MTG-201 is under development for the treatment of prostate cancer, and ongoing preclinical programs are evaluating MTG-201 as a potential treatment for liver and bladder cancers.”


Pembrolizumab Promised Fast FDA Action on Frontline Melanoma Indication

“Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) has received priority review from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as frontline treatment for patients with advanced melanoma, according to Merck, the manufacturer of the anti–PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor. A final decision is expected from the FDA by December 19, 2015.

“In a separate action, the FDA delayed its decision date on an application for pembrolizumab in ipilimumab-refractory advanced melanoma to December 24, 2015, based on the need to review additional data submitted by Merck.

“ ‘Through our clinical program for KEYTRUDA we have accumulated substantial data on the role of our anti–PD-1 therapy in advanced melanoma. We look forward to the FDA’s review of each of these applications, and to delivering on our goal of helping patients with advanced melanoma to achieve long-term disease control and survival,’ said Roger M. Perlmutter, MD, PhD, president, Merck Research Laboratories.”


FDA Delays Decision for Frontline Nivolumab

“The review period for frontline nivolumab (Opdivo), in patients who have advanced melanoma, recently received an extension of 3 months by the FDA, in order to allow ample time for review of the additional data submitted by Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS). The updated action date for the new indication is November 27, 2015.

“Nivolumab initially received a priority review designation for the new indication on April 30, 2015, based on the phase III CheckMate-066 trial that explored nivolumab in untreated patients with BRAF wild-type advanced melanoma. The new data hope to support an approval that is irrespective of BRAF status, BMS indicated.

“ ‘The CheckMate-066 trial marked the first time that a PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitor showed a survival benefit in a randomized phase III trial,’ Michael Giordano, MD, senior vice president, Head of Development, Oncology, BMS, said when the FDA initially accepted the application. ‘We look forward to continuing to work with the FDA to ensure cancer patients are provided the latest clinical advances that have the potential for improved responses and long-term survival.’ “


FDA Approves Iressa for EGFR Metastatic Lung Cancer

“Iressa (gefitinib) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat patients with metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with a specific genetic mutation (epidermal growth factor receptor [EGFR]). A just-approved companion diagnostic test can identify patients who could benefit from this new use.

“Iressa is a kinase inhibitor, a class of drugs designed to block proteins that spur development of cancer cells. The therascreen EGFR RGQ PCR Kit is a newly approved diagnostic that can help doctors detect patients with the genetic mutation who are candidates for treatment with Iressa.

“Iressa was evaluated for this use in clinical trials involving 106 people with previously untreated EGFR mutation-positive metastatic NSCLC. Tumors shrank in about 50 percent of people treated with Iressa 250 mg once daily. This effect lasted an average of six months, the FDA said. Severe side effects of Iressa may include interstitial lung disease, liver damage, gastrointestinal perforation, severe diarrhea, and ocular disorders. More common side effects are diarrhea and skin reactions.”


UPDATE 1-Lilly Cancer Drug Improves Survival, Raises Blood Clot Risk -FDA

“Eli Lilly & Co.’s experimental lung cancer drug necitumumab improved overall survival by an average of 1.6 months but also increased the risk of sometimes fatal blood clots, according to a preliminary review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“The FDA’s review was posted on its website on Tuesday ahead of July 9 meeting of outside experts who will discuss the drug and recommend whether it should be approved. The FDA usually follows the advice of its advisory panels.

“Necitumumab is a second-generation monoclonal antibody for patients with stage IV squamous non-small cell lung cancer.

“In a 1,093-patient clinical trial patients who received necitumumab together with the chemotherapy drugs gemcitabine and cisplatin survived an average of 11.5 months compared with 9.9 months for patients who received gemcitabine and cisplatin alone.”


ASCO Highlight: Another Treatment Option for ER-Positive Breast Cancer


Earlier this year, a new treatment option was added to the arsenal for ER-positive breast cancer in postmenopausal women when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the combination of letrozole (Femara) and palbociclib (Ibrance). Continue reading…


FDA Grants Priority Review to Keytruda for Advanced NSCLC

“The FDA accepted for review the supplemental biologics license application of pembrolizumab for advanced non–small cell lung cancer, according to a press release from the drug’s manufacturer.

“Further, the FDA granted priority review and breakthrough therapy designation to pembrolizumab (Keytruda, Merck) — a humanized monoclonal antibody that blocks the interaction between programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) and its ligands, PD-L1 and PD-L2 — for advanced NSCLC with a target action date of October 2, 2015.

“The FDA will review the use of pembrolizumab in patients with advanced NSCLC whose disease has progressed on or after platinum chemotherapy and an FDA-approved therapy for epidermal growth factor receptor or ALK genomic tumor aberrations, if present.”


ASCO Launches First-ever Clinical Trial: Aims to Learn from Patients with Advanced Cancer Who Lack Standard Treatment Options

“The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) today announced its first-ever clinical trial that will offer patients with advanced cancer access to molecularly-targeted cancer drugs and collect ‘real-world’ data on clinical outcomes to help learn the best uses of these drugs outside of indications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Plans for the Targeted Agent and Profiling Utilization Registry (TAPUR) study, including the participation of major pharmaceutical companies that will contribute free drugs, were released in a news briefing at the Society’s 2015 Annual Meeting in Chicago.

“The ASCO-sponsored prospective, non-randomized clinical trial will collect information on the anti-tumor activity and toxicity of commercially available, targeted cancer drugs in a range of cancer types, including any advanced solid tumor, multiple myeloma, or non-Hodgkin lymphoma with a genomic variation known to be a drug target.

“ ‘Oncologists often use therapies approved for a specific cancer indication to treat people with other types of advanced cancer, but we very rarely learn from that experience to benefit other patients,’ said ASCO President Peter Paul Yu, MD, FACP, FASCO. ‘TAPUR will document the real-world experience of patients who receive commercially available targeted anti-cancer drugs and will describe the effectiveness and side effects of a range of targeted agents available in this study.’ “