Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Merck & Co. Competing Hodgkin’s Drugs Look Comparable, Says Analyst

Published: Nov 07, 2014

Bristol-Myers, Merck’s Competing Hodgkin’s Drugs Look Comparable, Says Analyst

November 6, 2014

By Riley McDermid, Breaking News Sr. Editor

Data for Bristol-Myers Squibb Company ’s Opdivo and Merck & Co., Inc. ’s Keytruda, competing drugs for the treatment in Hodgkin lymphoma, appear to be roughly comparable across baseline characteristics, said biotech analyst Mark Schoenebaum, on Thursday.

Bristol’s Opdivo (nivolumab) and Merck’s Keytruda (pembrolizumab) both released abstracts for data gathered in recent trials to be presented next month at the American Society of Hematology’s annual conference.

Schoenebaum, a medical doctor and analyst for ISI Group, said that data showed that the two so far show similar effects and results.

“The bottom line is that the two PD1 inhibitors appear effective in relapsed/refractory HL (perhaps not so unexpected given the breakthrough designation that Opdivo received from the FDA for HL),” he wrote in a note to investors.

Hodgkin's lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which causes cells to grow abnormally and compromises the body's ability to fight infection.

Schoenebaum said that despite the risks comparing across trials with small patient numbers, different baseline characteristics and different length of follow-up and “possibly different response criteria,” the two drugs appear roughly comparable.

“On safety, Opdivo appeared to have a greater number of Grade 3-5 AEs than for Keytruda (22 percent versus 7 percent respectively),” he said. “However, the differences between the drugs may very well be diminish over time with even simply additional patient numbers and length of follow-up.”

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