Bristol Myers Squibb to Present First Results at ASCO and EHA from Phase 3 COMMANDS Study of Reblozyl® (luspatercept-aamt) in First-Line Treatment of Anemia in Adults with Lower-Risk Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS)
Results from Phase 3 COMMANDS study, selected for ASCO’s official press program, show nearly twice as many patients treated with Reblozyl achieved superior transfusion independence with concurrent hemoglobin increase vs. epoetin alfa, including in clinically relevant subgroups
Reblozyl demonstrated a durable response, with nearly 2.5 years median transfusion independence, 1 year longer than epoetin alfa
Additional results, to be presented during the plenary session at the European Hematology Association Congress, show Reblozyl demonstrated clinical benefit across patients with spectrum of MDS mutations
“Chronic anemia, low hemoglobin levels and transfusion dependency are the primary clinical challenges for patients with lower-risk MDS, increasing the risk of death by more than half compared to those who do not require transfusions,” said Guillermo Garcia-Manero, M.D., lead investigator and Chief of the Section of Myelodysplastic Syndromes at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. “Results from the COMMANDS study showed treatment with Reblozyl compared to epoetin alfa led to superior and statistically significant improvements in red blood cell transfusion independence and hemoglobin increase, improvements in response durability, and equal or better outcomes across all subgroups, with acceptable safety and tolerability for patients with ESA-naïve, lower-risk MDS.”
The primary endpoint evaluated in the COMMANDS study is RBC transfusion independence (RBC-TI) for 12 weeks with a mean hemoglobin increase of ≥1.5 g/dL. Key secondary endpoints include erythroid response (HI-E) of at least 8 weeks during weeks 1-24 of the study, RBC-TI ≥12 weeks and RBC-TI for 24 weeks. Eligible patients were ≥18 years old with lower-risk MDS who require transfusions. Patients were randomized 1:1 to receive subcutaneous Reblozyl (starting dose 1.0 mg/kg, titration up to 1.75 mg/kg) once every 3 weeks or epoetin alfa (starting dose 450 IU/kg, titration up to 1050 IU/kg) weekly for ≥24 weeks.
COMMANDS Study Results at ASCO
At the time of the interim analysis, 147 evaluable patients received Reblozyl and 154 evaluable patients received epoetin alfa, with median treatment durations of 41.6 and 27 weeks, respectively. Results showed 58.5% (n=86) of patients receiving Reblozyl vs. 31.2% (n=48) of patients receiving epoetin alfa achieved the primary endpoint of RBC-TI of at least 12 weeks with concurrent mean hemoglobin (Hb) increase of at least 1.5 g/dL within the first 24 weeks (p<0.0001). HI-E increase of at least 8 weeks was achieved by 74.1% (n=109) of Reblozyl patients vs. 51.3% (n=79) of epoetin alfa patients (p<0.0001). Patients treated with Reblozyl achieved more durable responses vs. epoetin alfa, with a median duration of response of RBC-TI ≥12 weeks (Week 1 to end of treatment) of 126.6 vs. 77 weeks. Within the first 24 weeks of treatment, RBC-TI of at least 24 weeks was achieved by 47.6% (n=70) of Reblozyl patients vs. 29.2% (n=45) of epoetin alfa patients (P=0.0006). Benefit with Reblozyl was also observed in clinically relevant subgroups, and results showed a consistent safety profile and no new safety signals.
COMMANDS Study – ASCO Oral Presentation #7003
Hematology-related treatment emergent adverse events (TEAEs)
Most common TEAEs
Red blood cell transfusion independence (RBC-TI) (≥12 weeks with mean hemoglobin (Hb) increase ≥1.5 g/dL)
Hematologic improvement-erythroid (HI-E) ≥8 weeks
RBC-TI, 24 weeks
RBC-TI ≥12 weeks
Association of Baseline Characteristics
Serum erythropoietin (sEPO) ≤200 U/L
26.35 (12.78 to 38.41)
sEPO >200 U/L
29.26 (6.35 to 50.83)
Ring sideroblast +
38.92 (25.87 to 50.70)
Ring sideroblast -
-5.32 (-27.71 to 16.74)
38.88 (24.13 to 51.91)
9.25 (-8.73 to 26.87)
COMMANDS Study Results at EHA
Data to be presented at EHA included both efficacy and safety consistent with results at ASCO, and showed Reblozyl demonstrated favorable outcomes compared to epoetin alfa across common MDS mutations (SF3B1, SF3B1a, ASXL1, TET2, DNMT3A, EZH2, IDH2, U2AF1) and had a higher probability of achieving clinical benefit, regardless of overall mutational burden.
COMMANDS Study – EHA Oral Presentation #S102
Association of MDS-Related Mutations
0.38 (0.17 to 0.59)
-0.40 (-0.85 to 0.05)
0.24 (-0.02 to 0.50)
0.09 (-0.14 to 0.31)
0.28 (-0.13 to 0.69)
0.30 (-0.23 to 0.83)
0.25 (-0.17 to 0.67)
0.40 (0.26 to 0.53)
0.45 (0.29 to 0.62)
0.25 (-0.18 to 0.68)
0.21 (-0.10 to 0.53)
0.32 (0.14 to 0.51)
0.16 (-0.14 to 0.46)
A supplemental Biologics License Application for Reblozyl is currently under Priority Review with the
“Clinical experience has demonstrated that just one in three patients with low-risk myelodysplastic syndromes experience responses to erythroid stimulating agents over 6-18 months, leaving a significant need for more effective options to address chronic anemia,” said Matteo Giovanni Della Porta, study investigator and head of Leukemia Unit at Humanitas Cancer Center in
“Results being presented at ASCO and EHA reinforce the notion that Reblozyl should be used as the initial treatment of anemia in patients with lower- to intermediate-risk myelodysplastic syndromes,” said Noah Berkowitz, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president, Hematology Development, Bristol Myers Squibb. “As a potentially more effective and durable upfront treatment option, Reblozyl could shift the paradigm for standard of care among these patients.”
Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a group of closely related blood cancers characterized by ineffective production of healthy red blood cells (RBC), white blood cells and platelets, which can lead to anemia and frequent or severe infections.1,2 People with MDS who develop anemia often require regular blood transfusions to increase the number of healthy red blood cells in circulation.3 Frequent transfusions are associated with an increased risk of iron overload, transfusion reactions and infections.4 Patients who become RBC transfusion-dependent have a significantly shorter overall survival than those who are not dependent on transfusions, partially due to iron overload or to more severe bone marrow disease than in non-transfusion dependent patients.5
About Reblozyl® (luspatercept-aamt)
Reblozyl, a first-in-class therapeutic option, promotes late-stage red blood cell maturation in animal models.6 Reblozyl is being developed and commercialized through a global collaboration with Merck following Merck’s acquisition of Acceleron Pharma, Inc. in November 2021. Reblozyl is currently approved in the
- anemia in adult patients with beta thalassemia who require regular red blood cell transfusions, and
- anemia failing an erythropoiesis stimulating agent and requiring 2 or more red blood cell units over 8 weeks in adult patients with very low- to intermediate-risk myelodysplastic syndrome with ring sideroblasts (MDS-RS) or with myelodysplastic/myeloproliferative neoplasm with ring sideroblasts and thrombocytosis (MDS/MPN-RS-T).
Reblozyl is not indicated for use as a substitute for red blood cell transfusions in patients who require immediate correction of anemia. In the
WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS
In adult patients with beta thalassemia, thromboembolic events (TEE) were reported in 8/223 (3.6%) of REBLOZYL-treated patients. TEEs included deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolus, portal vein thrombosis, and ischemic stroke. Patients with known risk factors for thromboembolism (splenectomy or concomitant use of hormone replacement therapy) may be at further increased risk of thromboembolic conditions. Consider thromboprophylaxis in patients at increased risk of TEE. Monitor patients for signs and symptoms of thromboembolic events and institute treatment promptly.
Hypertension was reported in 10.7% (61/571) of REBLOZYL-treated patients. Across clinical studies, the incidence of Grade 3 to 4 hypertension ranged from 1.8% to 8.6%. In patients with beta thalassemia with normal baseline blood pressure, 13 (6.2%) patients developed systolic blood pressure (SBP) ≥130 mm Hg and 33 (16.6%) patients developed diastolic blood pressure (DBP) ≥80 mm Hg. In adult patients with MDS with normal baseline blood pressure, 26 (29.9%) patients developed SBP ≥130 mm Hg and 23 (16.4%) patients developed DBP ≥80 mm Hg. Monitor blood pressure prior to each administration. Manage new or exacerbations of preexisting hypertension using anti-hypertensive agents.
Extramedullary Hematopoietic Masses (EMH)
In adult patients with transfusion-dependent beta thalassemia, EMH masses were observed in 3.2% of REBLOZYL-treated patients, with spinal cord compression symptoms due to EMH masses occurring in 1.9% of patients (BELIEVE and REBLOZYL long-term follow-up study).
In a study of adult patients with non-transfusion-dependent beta thalassemia, a higher incidence of EMH masses was observed in 6.3% of REBLOZYL-treated patients vs. 2% of placebo-treated patients in the double- blind phase of the study, with spinal cord compression due to EMH masses occurring in 1 patient with a prior history of EMH. REBLOZYL is not indicated for use in patients with non-transfusion-dependent beta thalassemia.
Possible risk factors for the development of EMH masses in patients with beta thalassemia include history of EMH masses, splenectomy, splenomegaly, hepatomegaly, or low baseline hemoglobin (<8.5 g/dL). Signs and symptoms may vary depending on the anatomical location. Monitor patients with beta thalassemia at initiation and during treatment for symptoms and signs or complications resulting from the EMH masses and treat according to clinical guidelines. Discontinue treatment with REBLOZYL in case of serious complications due to EMH masses. Avoid use of REBLOZYL in patients requiring treatment to control the growth of EMH masses.
REBLOZYL may cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. REBLOZYL caused increased post- implantation loss, decreased litter size, and an increased incidence of skeletal variations in pregnant rat and rabbit studies. Advise pregnant women of the potential risk to a fetus. Advise females of reproductive potential to use effective contraception during treatment and for at least 3 months after the final dose.
Serious adverse reactions occurred in 3.6% of patients on REBLOZYL. Serious adverse reactions occurring in 1% of patients included cerebrovascular accident and deep vein thrombosis. A fatal adverse reaction occurred in 1 patient treated with REBLOZYL who died due to an unconfirmed case of acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
Most common adverse reactions (at least 10% for REBLOZYL and 1% more than placebo) were headache (26% vs 24%), bone pain (20% vs 8%), arthralgia (19% vs 12%), fatigue (14% vs 13%), cough (14% vs 11%), abdominal pain (14% vs 12%), diarrhea (12% vs 10%) and dizziness (11% vs 5%).
Grade ≥3 (≥2%) adverse reactions included fatigue, hypertension, syncope and musculoskeletal pain. A fatal adverse reaction occurred in 5 (2.1%) patients.
The most common (≥10%) adverse reactions included fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, hypersensitivity reactions, hypertension, headache, upper respiratory tract infection, bronchitis, and urinary tract infection.
It is not known whether REBLOZYL is excreted into human milk or absorbed systemically after ingestion by a nursing infant. REBLOZYL was detected in milk of lactating rats. When a drug is present in animal milk, it is likely that the drug will be present in human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk, and because of the unknown effects of REBLOZYL in infants, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or to discontinue treatment. Because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in the breastfed child, breastfeeding is not recommended during treatment and for 3 months after the last dose.
Please see full Prescribing Information and Summary of Product Characteristics for REBLOZYL.
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Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This press release contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 regarding, among other things, the research, development and commercialization of pharmaceutical products. All statements that are not statements of historical facts are, or may be deemed to be, forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements are based on current expectations and projections about our future financial results, goals, plans and objectives and involve inherent risks, assumptions and uncertainties, including internal or external factors that could delay, divert or change any of them in the next several years, that are difficult to predict, may be beyond our control and could cause our future financial results, goals, plans and objectives to differ materially from those expressed in, or implied by, the statements. These risks, assumptions, uncertainties and other factors include, among others, that future study results may not be consistent with the results to date, that Reblozyl® (luspatercept-aamt) may not receive regulatory approval for the additional indication described in this release in the currently anticipated timeline or at all, that any marketing approvals, if granted, may have significant limitations on their use, and, if approved, whether such product candidate for such additional indication described in this release will be commercially successful. No forward-looking statement can be guaranteed. It should also be noted that acceptance of the sBLA does not change the standards for FDA approval and that the validation by the EMA of the application does not change the standards for EMA approval. Forward-looking statements in this press release should be evaluated together with the many risks and uncertainties that affect Bristol Myers Squibb’s business and market, particularly those identified in the cautionary statement and risk factors discussion in Bristol Myers Squibb’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2022, as updated by our subsequent Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The forward-looking statements included in this document are made only as of the date of this document and except as otherwise required by applicable law, Bristol Myers Squibb undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events, changed circumstances or otherwise.
- Mount Sinai. Myelodysplastic Syndrome. Available at: https://www.mountsinai.org/care/cancer/services/mds. Accessed March 2023.
- Myelodysplastic Syndromes Foundation. What is MDS? Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/myelodysplastic-syndrome/about/what-is-mds.html. Accessed March 2023.
- Johns Hopkins Medicine. Myelodysplastic Syndrome. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/kimmel_cancer_center/types_cancer/myelodysplastic_syndrome.html. Accessed March 2023.
- Rasel M, Mahboobi SK. Transfusion Iron Overload. PubMed. 2021. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK562146/. Accessed March 2023.
- Triantafyllidis I, Ciobanu A, Stanca O, Lupu AR. Prognostic factors in myelodysplastic syndromes. Maedica (Bucur). 2012 Dec;7(4):295-302. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3593279. Accessed March 2023.
- Galanello R, Origa R. Beta thalassemia. Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases. 2010;5(11). Available at: https://ojrd.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1750-1172-5-11. Accessed March 2023.
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