Friday, October 2, 2015


FDA approves ipilimumab-nivolumab combination for melanoma treatment

The Wall Street Journal (10/2, Loftus, Winslow, Subscription Publication) reports that the FDA approved a combination of Yervoy (ipilimumab) and Opdivo (nivolumab) to be taken together for advanced melanoma treatment, drugs expected to cost each patient $256,000 in their first year. The article highlights the high price of drug treatment cocktails, citing the annual cost by Novartis as $226,428 per patient.
        Reuters (10/2, Berkrot, Nathan) notes that Merck is testing Keytruda (pembrolizumab) to work as part of a melanoma treatment cocktail in at least ten studies. The article points out that bought separately Opdivo and Yervoy would cost around $295,000.
        Bloomberg News (10/2, Koons) explains that in May’s Yervoy-Opdivo trial, “58 percent of those who received both drugs had significant tumor shrinkage, compared with 44 percent in the group that took Opdivo alone and 19 percent for just Yervoy.” Yet, there was “a 36 percent dropout rate due to side effects,” as the combination precipitated “diarrhea and elevated liver enzymes.”