BioTrends Research Group, one of the world's leading research and advisory firms for specialized biopharmaceutical issues, has released findings from the second wave of its LaunchTrends® Yervoy and Zelboraf report, in which 103 U.S.-based medical oncologists were surveyed about their current and expected treatment patterns in advanced melanoma. A key finding from this study is that medical oncologists have positive patient treatment experiences with these agents, so they are planning on utilizing them more often when treating advanced melanoma.
“Medical oncologists report that they have seen significant clinical benefits in other types of cancer when using combination therapies; they report that combination therapy can hit cancer at two different pathways which inhibits the development of resistance a major issue in the treatment of cancer”
Medical oncologists were interviewed about Bristol-Myers Squibb's Yervoy (ipilimumab) one year after launch and Genentech/Roche's Zelboraf (vemurafenib) six months after launch. For both Yervoy and Zelboraf the vast majority of medical oncologists have adopted these brands and both brands have seen the average number of patients on therapy increase by at least one third since the last wave of research conducted six months ago. These products, which have very different mechanisms of action, are seen as significant treatment progress for advanced melanoma.
Yervoy is one of the first targeted immunotherapies in cancer and over two-thirds of medical oncologists report efficacy as a key advantage of this therapy with the survival data most often cited. However, medical oncologists report a key disadvantage of this therapy over currently available agents is the unique side-effects related to an immunotherapy; although after one year on the market they report being able to frequently manage these side-effects. Surveyed specialists also noted that the response rates for Yervoy are often unpredictable, but when it does work efficacy can be sustained.
Zelboraf is indicated for advanced melanoma that has the BRAF positive gene mutation, making it the first personalized medicine in the treatment of melanoma. The percent of patients screened for the BRAF mutation increased from the previous wave of research and now represents over two-thirds of melanoma patients. Medical oncologists report a key stated advantage of Zelboraf over currently available agents is efficacy, with an emphasis on the high response rates. A key disadvantage of this therapy is that it cannot be used in patients without the BRAF mutation (i.e. wild type patients) and it may cause cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cuSCC), although it usually does not spread to other parts of the body.