A new first-line treatment for mesothelioma was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), becoming the first drug regimen cleared for the deadly form of cancer in 16 years and the second FDA-approved systematic therapy for mesothelioma, the agency announced in a news release.

The treatment is a combination of Opdivo (nivolumab) and Yervoy (ipilimumab), and is approved for the treatment of adults with malignant pleural mesothelioma that cannot be removed by surgery. Approval was granted to Bristol-Myers Squibb Company.

“Today’s approval of nivolumab plus ipilimumab provides a new treatment that has demonstrated an improvement in overall survival for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma,” said Richard Pazdur, M.D., director of the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence and acting director of the Office of Oncologic Diseases in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. In 2004, the FDA approved pemetrexed in combination with cisplatin for the same indication.

Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a life-threatening form of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs. It is caused by inhalation of asbestos fibers, and can take decades for symptoms to present. The disease affects about 20,000 Americans and accounts for the majority of mesothelioma diagnoses. Most patients with MPM have an unresectable tumor at the time of their diagnosis, and their prognosis is generally dire. The Opdivo and Yervoy combo treatment was found to decrease tumor growth by enhancing T-cell function.

It has been known for decades that asbestos was a carcinogen, yet the mineral was widely used in construction and shipbuilding materials and friction parts without warning workers who handled the materials that they were at risk.

Mesothelioma litigation

Beasley Allen lawyers handle mesothelioma claims. They are looking at cases of industrial, occupational and secondary asbestos exposure resulting in lung cancer or mesothelioma as well as claims of asbestos-related talc products linked to mesothelioma. Charlie Stern in our Toxic Torts Section is the lead attorney working on these types of cases. As an experienced mesothelioma lawyer, Charlie is well equipped to tackle asbestos cases, which are highly complicated and require someone with a true understanding of the facts, medical issues, science and law. He is working together with Will Sutton, an experienced lawyer in our Toxic Torts Section. Contact us for more information.

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