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Combined Nivolumab and Ipilimumab or Monotherapy in Untreated Melanoma

James Larkin, M.D., Ph.D., Vanna Chiarion-Sileni, M.D., Rene Gonzalez, M.D., Jean Jacques Grob, M.D., C. Lance Cowey, M.D., Christopher D. Lao, M.D., M.P.H., Dirk Schadendorf, M.D., Reinhard Dummer, M.D., Michael Smylie, M.D., Piotr Rutkowski, M.D., Ph.D.

Background

Nivolumab (a programmed death 1 [PD-1] checkpoint inhibitor) and ipilimumab (a cytotoxic T-lymphocyte–associated antigen 4 [CTLA-4] checkpoint inhibitor) have been shown to have complementary activity in metastatic melanoma. In this randomized, double-blind, phase 3 study, nivolumab alone or nivolumab plus ipilimumab was compared with ipilimumab alone in patients with metastatic melanoma.

Methods

We assigned, in a 1:1:1 ratio, 945 previously untreated patients with unresectable stage III or IV melanoma to nivolumab alone, nivolumab plus ipilimumab, or ipilimumab alone. Progression-free survival and overall survival were coprimary end points. Results regarding progression-free survival are presented here.

Results

The median progression-free survival was 11.5 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 8.9 to 16.7) with nivolumab plus ipilimumab, as compared with 2.9 months (95% CI, 2.8 to 3.4) with ipilimumab (hazard ratio for death or disease progression, 0.42; 99.5% CI, 0.31 to 0.57; P<0.001), and 6.9 months (95% CI, 4.3 to 9.5) with nivolumab (hazard ratio for the comparison with ipilimumab, 0.57; 99.5% CI, 0.43 to 0.76; P<0.001). In patients with tumors positive for the PD-1 ligand (PD-L1), the median progression-free survival was 14.0 months in the nivolumab-plus-ipilimumab group and in the nivolumab group, but in patients with PD-L1–negative tumors, progression-free survival was longer with the combination therapy than with nivolumab alone (11.2 months [95% CI, 8.0 to not reached] vs. 5.3 months [95% CI, 2.8 to 7.1]). Treatment-related adverse events of grade 3 or 4 occurred in 16.3% of the patients in the nivolumab group, 55.0% of those in the nivolumab-plus-ipilimumab group, and 27.3% of those in the ipilimumab group.

Conclusions

Among previously untreated patients with metastatic melanoma, nivolumab alone or combined with ipilimumab resulted in significantly longer progression-free survival than ipilimumab alone. In patients with PD-L1–negative tumors, the combination of PD-1 and CTLA-4 blockade was more effective than either agent alone. (Funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb; CheckMate 067 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01844505.)