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New drug combination may improve mesothelioma treatment

by | Apr 28, 2021 | Mesothelioma/Asbestos-Related Illness

What would you do with four extra months? That’s the question to follow the recent announcement of a successful European clinical trial.

According to a Bristol Myers Squibb press release, the company secured an important recommendation for its new drug combination. The recommendation came from the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP). The organization is part of the European counterpart of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States. The recommendation is not the same as final approval, but it is an important step toward European approval of the company’s new drug treatment.

Trials show new drug combination improves overall survival by four months

Researchers keep looking for new ways to combat mesothelioma. A cure would be the ultimate goal, but progress over the years has proven to be more incremental. Even so, clinical trials suggest the new drug combination could represent a big step forward. The trial, called CheckMate 743, compared the new treatment to standard chemotherapy. The findings were significant:

  • The trial compared the use of two drugs, nivolumab and ipilimumab, to the standard treatment of chemotherapy and drugs (pemetrexed and cisplatin or carboplatin)
  • Researchers measured both overall survival and progression-free survival
  • The nivolumab and ipilimumab combination increased overall survival from an average of 14 months to an average of 18 months
  • The combination would offer a first-line treatment alternative to chemotherapy
  • The combination led to improvements across all demographics, but to different degrees
  • The combination led to a greater number of serious side effects, but many of them were manageable with the use of steroids or supportive treatment

These results come after a period of 15 years without any real advances over the standard treatment. While the CHMP’s recommendation doesn’t guarantee final approval, it offers new hope for Europe’s mesothelioma victims. The FDA previously approved the combination for the treatment of metastatic melanoma, so people in the United States may soon look forward to the treatment option, as well.

How can families keep up with mesothelioma research?

There are two steps to ensuring that mesothelioma victims get the best possible treatment. The first is to develop new and better treatments. The second is to make sure that doctors and victims can access them.

Because mesothelioma is rare, doctors don’t always track the latest treatments and developments. Instead, people looking for the latest updates on new treatments and clinical trials want to contact physicians and other professionals who focus on the disease. They are more likely able to connect victims with the services and resources most likely to benefit them.

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