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March 23, 2022

Around the nation: FDA approves new cancer immunotherapy drug

Daily Briefing

    FDA on Friday approved Bristol Myers Squibb's new immunotherapy drug as an initial treatment for advanced melanoma, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from Georgia and New York.

    • Georgia: CDC on Thursday released new survey data that found cigarette use in the United States declined to an all-time low in 2020—with just one in eight adults reporting current cigarette use. In addition, e-cigarette use among adults declined during the same period. CDC attributed the decline to public health campaigns and policies, but other experts said the decline was likely a result of tobacco company price increases and lifestyle changes that came because of the Covid-19 pandemic. "People who were mainly social smokers just didn't have that going on any more," said Megan Roberts, an Ohio State University researcher studying tobacco product use among young adults and adolescents. (Stobbe, Associated Press, 3/17)
    • New York: Bristol Myers Squibb on Friday received FDA approval for its new cancer immunotherapy drug as an initial treatment for advanced melanoma. FDA approved relatlimab—which will be sold under the brand name Opdualag—from a class known as lymphocyte-activation gene 3 (LAG-3) inhibitors for use in combination with Bristol's immunotherapy drug, Opdivo. Notably, relatlimab more than doubled the time it took for advanced melanoma to progress when compared to Opdivo alone in clinical trials. "Our hypothesis is that the best applicability of a LAG-3 inhibitor will be in combination with a PD-1 inhibitor" like Opdivo, said Bristol Myers CMO Samit Hirawat. Bristol Myers intends to charge $27,389 for the combination, and it expects the combination treatment to produce more than $4 billion in annual sales by 2029, Reuters reports. (Reuters, 3/20)
    • The New York Times on Saturday reported that at least nine states have scaled back their daily Covid-19 reports that disclose information on new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Currently, Arizona, Hawaii, Kentucky, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and the District of Columbia are releasing weekly reports, and Wyoming is reporting data twice a week. Notably, public health officials have said they expect more states to shift away from daily Covid-19 reports soon. "We've moved to a place where we don't need to know the absolute numbers," Marcus Plescia, CMO of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. "We can still monitor trends for people who are getting tests in public settings. We still have a good sense of where the absolute numbers are going." (Carbajal, Becker's Hospital Review, 3/21)

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