As reported in Fierce Biotech today, Roche and BMS plan to work together to test each company's new drug, vemurafenib and ipilumumab respectively, for the treatment of melanoma in combination trials. This is an increasing trend in the cancer area where more than one drug is often required to be effective or to treat patients who stop responding to single therapies.
Said Jedd Wolchok, and investigator at Sloan-Kettering, "This trial has a very significant meaning, not just because it brings together the two most exciting drugs in melanoma in a very long time, but because the trial was planned by two big pharma compnaies before either drug was approved."
You can look for this trend to increase with more complex disease states -- especially as the FDA released guidelines for such combo trials late last year. In addition to cancer, combo treatments have also been pursued in the HIV and Hepatitis C infection.
In a somewhat related note, Roche also announced an agreement with Merck to develop companion diagnostics to help identify and monitor patients who can most benefit from Merck's new cancer treatments -- this too is an idea that has been gaining steam of late. Merck also is working with Roche in the hepatitis C area with its new drug Victrelis. Expect to see more of these collaborations. See WSJ.
Posted by Bruce Lehr June 7th 2011.