On November 10, 2016, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration approved nivolumab (OPDIVO Injection, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company), for the treatment of patients with recurrent or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) with disease progression on or after a platinum-based therapy.
Approval was based on data from an international, multi-center, open-label, randomized trial (CheckMate 141) comparing nivolumab with investigator’s choice (IC) of chemotherapy (either cetuximab, methotrexate, or docetaxel) in patients with recurrent or metastatic SCCHN with disease progression on or within 6 months of receiving platinum-based chemotherapy.
The trial enrolled 361 patients randomized (2:1) to nivolumab 3 mg/kg every 2 weeks intravenously (IV) (n=240) or IC (n=121) of either cetuximab 400 mg/m2 IV once, then 250 mg/m2 IV weekly (n=15), methotrexate 40 mg/m2 IV weekly (n=52), or docetaxel 30 mg/m2 IV weekly (n=54) until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity.
The trial demonstrated a statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in overall survival (OS) associated with the nivolumab arm (Hazard Ratio 0.7 [95% CI: 0.52, 0.92]; p=0.0101, stratified log rank test). Estimated median OS was 7.5 months (95% CI=5.5, 9.1) in the nivolumab arm and 5.1 months (95% CI=4, 6.0) for IC.
Serious adverse reactions occurred in 49% of patients receiving nivolumab. The most frequent serious adverse reactions reported in at least 2% of patients receiving nivolumab were pneumonia, dyspnea, respiratory failure, respiratory tract infection, and sepsis. The most common adverse reactions occurring in more than 10% of nivolumab-treated patients and at a higher incidence than IC were cough and dyspnea. The most common laboratory abnormalities occurring in 10% or more nivolumab-treated patients and at a higher incidence than IC were increased alkaline phosphatase, increased amylase, hypercalcemia, hyperkalemia, and increased TSH.
Full prescribing information is available at: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2016/125554s022lbl.pdf
Healthcare professionals should report all serious adverse events suspected to be associated with the use of any medicine and device to FDA’s MedWatch Reporting System by completing a form online at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch/report.htm, by faxing (1-800-FDA-0178) or mailing the postage-paid address form provided online, or by telephone (1-800-FDA-1088).