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Novartis immuno-oncology drug candidate fails skin cancer trial

August 22, 2020

Swiss drugmaker Novartis said on Saturday that its investigational spartalizumab immuno-oncology drug mixed with the approved medicines Tafinlar and Mekinist failed in a late-stage trial for a type of advanced skin cancer.

The drug did not improve progression-free survival in previously untreated patients with BRAF V600 mutation-positive cutaneous melanoma, compared to Tafinlar + Mekinist alone, Novartis said.

Despite the failure, Novartis is continuing development of spartalizumab, a so-called checkpoint inhibitor thought to help take the brakes off the immune system in fighting cancer, against other kind of tumors, the Basel-based company said.

Novartis has been late in developing such immuno-oncology drugs for its portfolio, a field now dominated by lucrative medicines including Merck’s Keytruda, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo, and to a lesser extent, Roche’s Tecentriq.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-novartis-skin-cancer/novartis-immuno-oncology-drug-candidate-fails-skin-cancer-trial-idUSKBN25I07P

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