(This March 4 story corrects to show drug to be used ahead of surgery, not first-line.)
Bristol Myers Squibb (BMY.N) said on Friday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had approved the expanded use of its cancer drug Opdivo along with chemotherapy as treatment that patients with an aggressive form of lung cancer receive before surgery.
The approval was based on data from a late-stage study showing the drug along with chemotherapy improved event-free survival and pathologic complete response compared to chemotherapy alone in patients with resectable non-small cell lung cancer, the drugmaker said.
Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common form of lung cancer, accounting for about 85% of the estimated 2.2 million new cases of lung cancer diagnosed each year worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.
Opdivo, Bristol’s flagship cancer drug that was first approved in 2014, brought in $1.99 billion in sales during company’s last reported quarter.
The drug is used in use in patients with several types of cancer including bladder, lung, blood, head and neck and advanced melanoma. It belongs to a class of drugs designed to help the body’s immune system fight cancer by blocking a protein called Programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1).