FDA OKs Combo Skin Cancer Rx

Nivolumab (Opdivo) combined with ipilimumab (Yervoy) approved to treat advanced melanoma

(RxWiki News) A new FDA approval suggests that, sometimes, two medications may be better than one.

At least that appeared to be the case with nivolumab (brand name Opdivo) and ipilimumab (brand name Yervoy), which the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved in combination to treat melanoma that has spread (metastasized) or would not respond to surgery. Individually, both drugs had already been FDA-approved to treat melanoma, one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer.

Bristol-Myers, which markets these two drugs, noted that the combo treatment would be available immediately to patients, reports Reuters.

Opdivo and Yervoy are part of a drug class that intensifies the immune system's response to cancer cells. These drugs are thought to be "safer and more effective than chemotherapy," according to Reuters.

The FDA granted accelerated approval to the new drug combo after it appeared more effective than Yervoy alone in a study of 142 advanced melanoma patients.

Some patients reported adverse reactions from these drugs. These included headache, vomiting and rash, among others.

Review Date: 
October 1, 2015