New Combination Treatment for Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma Approved in UK

According to a story from Pharma Times, a combination treatment consisting of nivolumab (marketed as Opdivo) plus ipilimumab (marketed as Yervoy) will now be available to UK patients living with malignant pleural mesothelioma following approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). This is the first new approval for this cancer in for 15 years in the country. Around 2,700 people in the UK get diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.

About Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly cancer that originates from the lining of tissue that surrounds most of the body’s internal organs, called the mesothelium. Mesothelioma is known as the type of cancer that most commonly originates from exposure to asbestos. Over eighty percent of cases are directly linked to such exposure. It most commonly appears in the lining of the lungs and chest wall, but can also occur around the heart, around the testes, and along the abdominal lining. Symptoms of mesothelioma are variable depending on the location but may include chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, coughing, weight loss, and a swollen abdomen. They develop slowly, and cancer often appears several decades after exposure. It responds poorly to treatment, with the five-year survival rate sitting around eight percent. Around 20,000 people in the US get diagnosed every year. There is a dire need for more effective treatment options in this form of cancer. To learn more about mesothelioma, click here.

Improving Survival

With a dire rate of long term survival, the approval of this new immunotherapy combo offers hope to a patient community that is in dire need of it:

 “The approval of nivolumab plus ipilimumab is the first drug approval for mesothelioma since 2004 and will potentially improve survival expectations in these patients.” – Dr. Sanjay Popat, Royal Marsden Hospital

The combination offered improved overall survival in a phase III clinical trial in comparison to common standards of care, such as carboplatin chemotherapy and pemetrexed plus cisplatin. 41 percent of patients that received Opdivo plus Yervoy had survived after two years in comparison to just 27 percent of chemotherapy-treated patients. Meanwhile, the rate of adverse events was slightly lower.

This approval follows the recent clearing of this combination for malignant pleural mesothelioma by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in June.

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