As reported in MedicalXpress, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) have turned down a combination therapy of two immunotherapy drugs targeting a certain type of advanced kidney cancer. The results of the Phase 3 clinical trial revealed that the drug combination was more effective than current treatment and caused less side effects. However, it was rejected by the UK Health and Care Excellence (NICE) because it was too expensive and that the sponsor, Bristol-Myers Squibb had not collected enough long-term data on how patients were doing. It was concluded that the immunotherapy drugs; Yervoy and Opdivo, were not cost effective for patients with advanced and aggressive kidney cancer as a first treatment option.
Of note BMS recently cut the Opdivo price in half in China to be competitive. Opdivo treatments in the United States run for approximately $150,000 per year while now in China it totals $84,000. Opdivo is one of BMS’ top revenue generating drugs. An immuno-oncology drug competing against Merck’s Keytruda, Opdivo sales grew 36 percent and in the first half of 2018 it generated about $3.14 billion.