Bristol-Myers Squibb Co said a late-stage trial of its drug, Opdivo, was stopped early after the immunotherapy was found to be effective in patients with the most common form of kidney cancer.
The U.S. drugmaker said on Monday the study, Checkmate-025, was stopped early after an independent data monitoring committee concluded that Opdivo provided a survival advantage over the cancer drug, everolimus, among patients with advanced or metastatic renal cell carcinoma.
Expectations that the trial would be stopped early were high, Evercore ISI Mark Schoenebaum said, given the effectiveness of Opdivo in mid-stage studies, the limited benefit of everolimus, and that renal cell cancer has historically responded well to immunologic therapies.
The trial was expected to be completed by February 2016, according to clinicaltrials.gov.
Renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer in adults, accounting for more than 100,000 deaths annually. Globally, the five-year survival rate for those diagnosed with metastatic, or advanced kidney cancer, is 12.1 percent, according to Bristol-Myers.
In April, a large trial testing Opdivo was stopped early after the drug was found effective against the most common form of lung cancer.
Opdivo, already in use to treat advanced melanoma and forms of lung cancer, belongs to a highly promising new class of medicines called PD-1 inhibitors that block a mechanism tumors use to hide from the immune system.
The drug competes with Merck & Co's Keytruda.
AstraZeneca Plc, Pfizer Inc and other drugmakers are also developing PD-1 inhibitors, or similar drugs known as PD-L1 inhibitors.
Separately, smaller drugmaker Exelixis Inc said late-stage data showed that its cancer drug, Cometriq, was more effective than everolimus in improving survival without the disease progressing in patients with advanced kidney cancer.
Bristol's shares rose about 2 percent to $70.45 in early trading.