Bristol-Myers set to get a boost in China as Opdivo aces PhIII lung cancer study early

Bristol-Myers Squibb appears poised to win a big niche in China’s cancer drug market. The company reported Thursday night that their Phase III comparing their checkpoint inhibitor Opdivo against docetaxel — run primarily in China — proved their therapy was more effective in treating second-line non-small cell lung cancer patients.

Bristol-Myers $BMY is holding on to the actual data on overall survival from Checkmate-078, but China’s FDA has the marketing application under review. Investigators recruited 451 of 504 patients in China.

Big and little drug developers have been focusing more attention on China in the wake of a shakeup in its regulatory structure and a commitment to speed more drugs to the booming Asian healthcare market. China has a particularly high rate of lung cancer in a country where smoking is common.

Nick Botwood, development lead, thoracic cancers for Bristol-Myers Squibb, had this to say in a statement:

The results of CheckMate -078 mark the third time Opdivo has demonstrated a survival advantage in previously treated metastatic non-small cell lung cancer. In China, where lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, these results are especially important, as they represent the first Phase 3 trial to show an overall survival benefit with a PD-1 inhibitor in the Chinese patient population. Through our Opdivo clinical development program, we aim to bring the potential for long-term survival to patients where significant unmet medical needs remain.

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