The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently gave approval to the first new mesothelioma drug treatment combination for patients in the last 16 years. The drug combination, Opdivo (nivolumab) in combination with Yervoy (ipilimumab) are a first-line treatment for adults with malignant pleural mesothelioma that cannot be removed by surgery.
“Today’s approval of nivolumab plus ipilimumab provides a new treatment that has demonstrated an improvement in overall survival for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma,” said Richard Pazdur, M.D., director of the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence and acting director of the Office of Oncologic Diseases in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “In 2004, FDA approved pemetrexed in combination with cisplatin for this indication, and now patients now have an important, additional treatment option after more than a decade with only one FDA-approved drug regimen.”
Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a serious form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, and is caused by exposure to carcinogenic asbestos fibers. According to the FDA, about 20,000 Americans develop malignant pleural mesothelioma each year and accounts for most of the mesothelioma cases recorded. Furthermore, most of the patients diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma are not able to have their tumors operated on and this prognosis creates a generally poor survival rate.