The European Commission has approved the use of Opdivo (nivolumab), a medication made by Bristol-Myers Squibb Company for patients who have squamous cell cancer on their head and neck (SCCHN).
Research indicates the drug has shown a significant improvement in the survival rate of patients with squamous cell cancer, Bristol-Myers Squibb said in a release.
“Adult patients with squamous cell cancer of the head and neck that progresses on or after platinum-based therapy are fighting a debilitating and hard-to-treat disease that is associated with a very poor prognosis,” Kevin Harrington, professor in biological cancer therapies at the Institute of Cancer Research in London said in the release.
The decision to approve the drug was made after a trial that looked at nivolumab compared to methotrexate, docetaxel and cetuximab.
Opdivo is an immune checkpoint inhibitor that can use the patient’s immune system to fight the cancer.
“The European Commission’s approval of Opdivo marks not only the first new treatment option in 10 years for patients with advanced cancers of the head and neck, but also the first immuno-oncology treatment for SCCHN,” Bristol-Myers-Squibb Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer Murdo Gordon said in the release.
He said the company would work together with European authorities to make the drug available to patients quickly.