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FDA approves nivolumab for resected stage IIB/C melanoma


The Food and Drug Administration has approved nivolumab (Opdivo) for the treatment of completely resected stage IIB/C melanoma for patients aged 12 years and older, expanding the melanoma indication for the programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1) inhibitor.

Nivolumab, developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb, was previously approved as a single agent or in combination with ipilimumab for patients aged 12 years and older with unresectable or metastatic melanoma and for the adjuvant treatment of those aged 12 and older with completely resected stage III or IV melanoma.

The new approval was based on findings from the phase 3 CHECKMATE-76K trial, which randomly assigned 790 patients in a 2:1 ratio to receive nivolumab 480 mg or placebo by intravenous infusion. All patients in the trial had good performance status, had undergone complete resection of the primary melanoma with negative margins, and had tested negative on sentinel lymph node assessment within 12 weeks prior to randomization. Patients received treatment every 4 weeks for up to 1 year or until disease recurrence or unacceptable toxicity occurred.

Nivolumab reduced the risk of recurrence or death by 58% compared with placebo (hazard ratio, 0.42). Recurrence-free survival at 1 year was 89% with treatment, vs 79.4% with placebo. Median recurrence-free survival at 5 years was not reached in either arm.

Adverse reactions that were reported in at least 20% of patients included fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, rash, diarrhea, and pruritus.

The recommended nivolumab dose for patients weighing 40 kg or more is 480 mg every 4 weeks or 240 mg every 2 weeks until disease recurrence or unacceptable toxicity for up to 1 year. For pediatric patients who weigh less than 40 kg, the recommended dose is 3 mg/kg every 2 weeks or 6 mg/kg every 4 weeks until disease recurrence or unacceptable toxicity for up to 1 year.

Bristol-Myers Squibb’s application for approval led to the agent’s being granted orphan drug designation, allowing expedited review.

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