Bristol Myers drug wins first U.S. approval for Graft versus Host Disease prevention

Bristol Myers drug wins first U.S. approval for Graft versus Host Disease prevention
FILE PHOTO: A sign stands outside a Bristol Myers Squibb facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., May 20, 2021. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

(Reuters) -Bristol Myers Squibb Co’s Orencia on Wednesday became the first drug to win U.S. approval for the prevention of acute Graft versus Host Disease (aGvHD), a potentially fatal complication that could occur after a stem cell transplant.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared the drug in combination with certain immunosuppressants for use in adults and children aged two and older who are undergoing stem cell transplantation from an unrelated donor.

The disease, in which immune cells of the donor attack the recipient’s body, can be acute or chronic. The former could affect the gastrointestinal tract, skin and the liver, with symptoms likely appearing within weeks of the transplant.

In 2019, Incyte’s Jakafi had won the first U.S. approval for the treatment of aGvHD patients 12 years and older.

Orencia’s approval was based on real-world clinical evidence of the drug’s efficacy and results from a mid-stage study showing a combination of Orencia and immunosuppressive drugs boosted aGvHD-free survival rates.

Immunosuppressive medicines are generally used to treat the chronic form of the disease, whose symptoms could take months to appear after the transplant.

The FDA originally approved Orencia in 2005 for the treatment of adult rheumatoid arthritis and later also cleared it for two other types of arthritis.

Bristol Myers’ shares were 1.9% higher on Wednesday, bucking broader market weakness.

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