Leukemia - BMS drug more effective than Novartis' Glivec
Basel/Chicago/Princeton - Preliminay data from a Phase III study show that BistolMyers Squibb's (BMS) BCR-ABL kinase inhibitor dasatinib (Sprycel) is superior to Swiss Novartis' standard first-line therapy, imatinib (Glivec), for bringing about cytogenetic and molecular responses in patients newly diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). According to results presented at the ASCO meeting in Chicago, 73% of blood cancers did not progress after 3 years of treatment with Sprycel and 87% of CML patients, who do not respond to imatinib, survived. In a head-to-head comparison with Glivec, Sprycel seemed to be more effective. 77% of the patients treated with the BMS drug showed the complete disappearance of cells with the Philadelphia chromosome, a surrogate marker for long-term survival of CML patients, compared to 66% of patients treated with Glivec after 12 months of treatment. Additionally, the rate of major molecular responses – another marker of drug effectiveness – was also higher with dasatinib (46%) than imatinib (28%). Both drugs showed similar side effects such as Grade 3/4 anemia (10% vs 7%) and neutropenia (21% vs 20%). However, thrombocytopenia was more common for dasatinib (19% vs 10%). In a separate press statement, Novartis announced that 18-month results from a study confirmed its nilotinib (Tasigna) cancer drug is more efficient in slowing down CLM than older medicine Glivec, its second-biggest selling drug. The results will be also presented at the ASCO meeting.