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FDA News Release: Opdivo and Yervoy Combination Approved to Treat Mesothelioma

On Behalf of | Oct 20, 2020 | Pharmaceutical Liability

For the first time in 16 years, a drug combination and FDA-approved systemic therapy has been approved to treat malignant pleural mesothelioma that cannot be removed surgically. The first-line treatment for adults will include drug combination therapy using Opdivo (nivolumab) and Yervoy (ipilimumab) to increase the chances of patient survival. Here, the pharmaceutical liability attorneys at Peter Angelos Law provide an in-depth overview of drugs Opdivo and Yervoy and how the two drugs in combination have been approved to treat malignant mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is Linked to Exposure to Carcinogenic Asbestos Fibers

What is Mesothelioma?

A serious form of cancer that affects the lungs, heart and other essential organs, Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma (MPM) impacts approximately 20,000 individuals each year in the United States. While rare, Mesothelioma has been linked to asbestos exposure. Individuals who were exposed to asbestos even decades ago are not fully immune to the potential health impacts related to asbestos today.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a mineral that was commonly used in commercial and residential modalities, including manufactured goods and consumer products. This is due to the heat-resistant and uniquely malleable properties of asbestos that make it a valuable material for industrial use. Although asbestos is a naturally occurring fiber, it is recognized as a human carcinogen that can cause harm in the body such as lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma. This is due to the unique properties of asbestos that make it difficult to break down in the body, which means particles can become lodged in the body and contribute to disease.

New Combination Treatment is FDA-Approved as New Treatment for Mesothelioma Patients

What is Opdivo?

Monoclonal antibody medication Nivolumab, commonly sold and administered under its brand name Opdivo, is a medication used to treat certain forms of cancer including skin cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, liver cancer and more. Opdivo is used as a treatment for adult patients with advanced stages of unresectable cancer. It is used in combination with the pharmaceutical drug Yervoy.

What is Yervoy?

Ipilimumab is a monoclonal antibody medication sold under the brand name Yervoy. It activates the immune system by targeting protein receptors in the body—the drug also works to detect and destroy cancer cells in the body.

How do the Two Drugs Work Concurrently to Treat Malignant Mesothelioma?

According to the FDA’s most recent press release announcing the approval of this combination drug therapy, Opdivo and Yervoy, when combined, decrease tumor growth by enhancing T-cell function. The efficacy of this new therapy was evaluated during a randomized trial with 605 participants who had unresectable MPM. During the time of the research, patients who received the combination therapy survived a median of 18.1 months, while patients who underwent chemotherapy survived a median of 14.1 months.

Read the full FDA press release here.

Consult the Baltimore Pharmaceutical Liability Attorneys at Peter Angelos Law

The FDA’s announcement of an approved combination therapy to treat mesothelioma after a 16-year hiatus may be promising for the thousands of patients and their families suffering from advanced stages of this serious and aggressive cancer. The legal counsel at Peter Angelos Law have represented victims of asbestos exposure which lead to mesothelioma for decades and continue to advocate on their behalf. If you or a loved one has developed mesothelioma after using asbestos-contaminated products, you may have a case. Call 410.649.2000 or visit