PRINCETON, N.J. – Bristol Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) today announced the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has recommended granting Conditional Marketing Authorization for Abecma (idecabtagene vicleucel; ide-cel), the company’s B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA)-directed chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell immunotherapy, for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma who have received at least three prior therapies, including an immunomodulatory agent, a proteasome inhibitor and an anti-CD38 antibody and have demonstrated disease progression on the last therapy. The CHMP recommendation will now be reviewed by the European Commission (EC), which has the authority to approve medicines for the European Union (EU).
The CHMP adopted a positive opinion based on results from the pivotal Phase 2 KarMMa study evaluating the efficacy and safety of Abecma in 128 patients with heavily pre-treated and highly refractory multiple myeloma.
“As the first CAR T cell therapy for relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma to receive a positive CHMP opinion, Abecma represents a potential new treatment approach for patients in Europe battling this incurable blood cancer,” said Noah Berkowitz, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president, Cellular Therapy Development, Bristol Myers Squibb. “We look forward to the European Commission’s decision as we build on our innovative multiple myeloma and cell therapy research to offer novel and personalized treatment options for patients in need.”
The EC is expected to deliver its final decision within 67 days of receipt of the CHMP opinion. The decision will be applicable to all European Union member states and Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. The EMA previously granted Abecma access to the PRIority MEdicines (PRIME) scheme for the treatment of relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma.
KarMMa (NCT03361748) is a pivotal, open-label, single-arm, multicenter, multinational, Phase 2 study evaluating the efficacy and safety of ide-cel in adults with relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma in North America and Europe. The primary endpoint of the study is overall response rate as assessed by an independent review committee (IRC) according to the International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG) criteria. Complete response rate is a key secondary endpoint. Other secondary endpoints include time to response, duration of response, progression-free survival, overall survival, minimal residual disease evaluated by Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) assay and safety. The study enrolled 140 patients, of whom 128 received ide-cel across the target dose levels of 150-450 x 106 CAR+ T cells after receiving lymphodepleting chemotherapy. All enrolled patients had received at least three prior treatment regimens, including an immunomodulatory agent, a proteasome inhibitor and an anti-CD38 antibody, and were refractory to their last regimen, defined as progression during or within 60 days of their last therapy.
About Multiple Myeloma
Multiple myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells in the bone marrow.1 The exact cause of multiple myeloma is not known and currently there is no cure, however, there are a number of treatment options available to help manage the disease. Patients who have already been treated with some available therapies but continue to have progression of their disease have “relapsed” and “refractory” multiple myeloma, meaning their cancer has returned after they have received initial treatments.
Abecma is the first-in-class B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA)-directed chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell immunotherapy, approved in the U.S. for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma after four or more prior lines of therapy, including an immunomodulatory agent, a proteasome inhibitor, and an anti-CD38 monoclonal antibody. Abecma recognizes and binds to BCMA on the surface of multiple myeloma cells leading to CAR T cell proliferation, cytokine secretion, and subsequent cytolytic killing of BCMA-expressing cells.
Abecma is being jointly developed and commercialized in the U.S. as part of a Co-Development, Co-Promotion, and Profit Share Agreement with Bristol Myers Squibb and bluebird bio. Bristol Myers Squibb will assume sole responsibility for Abecma drug product manufacturing and commercialization outside of the U.S.
U.S. FDA-Approved Indication
ABECMA (idecabtagene vicleucel) is a B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA)-directed genetically modified autologous T cell immunotherapy indicated for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma after four or more prior lines of therapy, including an immunomodulatory agent, a proteasome inhibitor, and an anti-CD38 monoclonal antibody.
U.S. Important Safety Information
BOXED WARNING: CYTOKINE RELEASE SYNDROME, NEUROLOGIC TOXICITIES, HLH/MAS, AND PROLONGED CYTOPENIA
- Cytokine Release Syndrome (CRS), including fatal or life-threatening reactions, occurred in patients following treatment with ABECMA. Do not administer ABECMA to patients with active infection or inflammatory disorders. Treat severe or life-threatening CRS with tocilizumab or tocilizumab and corticosteroids.
- Neurologic Toxicities, which may be severe or life-threatening, occurred following treatment with ABECMA, including concurrently with CRS, after CRS resolution, or in the absence of CRS. Monitor for neurologic events after treatment with ABECMA. Provide supportive care and/or corticosteroids as needed.
- Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis/Macrophage Activation Syndrome (HLH/MAS) including fatal and life-threatening reactions, occurred in patients following treatment with ABECMA. HLH/MAS can occur with CRS or neurologic toxicities.
- Prolonged Cytopenia with bleeding and infection, including fatal outcomes following stem cell transplantation for hematopoietic recovery, occurred following treatment with ABECMA.
- ABECMA is available only through a restricted program under a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) called the ABECMA REMS.
Cytokine Release Syndrome (CRS): CRS, including fatal or life-threatening reactions, occurred following treatment with ABECMA. CRS occurred in 85% (108/127) of patients receiving ABECMA. Grade 3 or higher CRS (Lee grading system) occurred in 9% (12/127) of patients, with Grade 5 CRS reported in one (0.8%) patient. The median time to onset of CRS, any grade, was 1 day (range: 1 – 23 days) and the median duration of CRS was 7 days (range: 1 – 63 days) in all patients including the patient who died. The most common manifestations of CRS included pyrexia (98%), hypotension (41%), tachycardia (35%), chills (31%), hypoxia (20%), fatigue (12%), and headache (10%). Grade 3 or higher events that may be associated with CRS include hypotension, hypoxia, hyperbilirubinemia, hypofibrinogenemia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), atrial fibrillation, hepatocellular injury, metabolic acidosis, pulmonary edema, multiple organ dysfunction syndrome and HLH/MAS.
Identify CRS based on clinical presentation. Evaluate for and treat other causes of fever, hypoxia, and hypotension. CRS has been reported to be associated with findings of HLH/MAS, and the physiology of the syndromes may overlap. HLH/MAS is a potentially life-threatening condition. In patients with progressive symptoms of CRS or refractory CRS despite treatment, evaluate for evidence of HLH/MAS.
Fifty four percent (68/127) of patients received tocilizumab; 35% (45/127) received a single dose while 18% (23/127) received more than 1 dose of tocilizumab. Overall, across the dose levels, 15% (19/127) of patients received at least 1 dose of corticosteroids for treatment of CRS. All patients that received corticosteroids for CRS received tocilizumab.
Overall rate of CRS was 79% and rate of Grade 2 CRS was 23% in patients treated in the 300 x 106 CAR+ T cell dose cohort. For patients treated in the 450 x 106 CAR+ T cell dose cohort, the overall rate of CRS was 96% and rate of Grade 2 CRS was 40%. Rate of Grade 3 or higher CRS was similar across the dose range. The median duration of CRS for the 450 x 106 CAR+ T cell dose cohort was 7 days (range: 1-63 days) and for the 300 x 106 CAR+ T cell dose cohort was 6 days (range: 2-28 days). In the 450 x 106 CAR+ T cell dose cohort, 68% (36/53) of patients received tocilizumab and 23% (12/53) received at least 1 dose of corticosteroids for treatment of CRS. In the 300 x 106 CAR+ T cell dose cohort, 44% (31/70) of patients received tocilizumab and 10% (7/70) received corticosteroids. All patients that received corticosteroids for CRS also received tocilizumab. Ensure that a minimum of 2 doses of tocilizumab are available prior to infusion of ABECMA.
Monitor patients at least daily for 7 days following ABECMA infusion at the REMS-certified healthcare facility for signs and symptoms of CRS. Monitor patients for signs or symptoms of CRS for at least 4 weeks after infusion. At the first sign of CRS, institute treatment with supportive care, tocilizumab and/or corticosteroids as indicated.
Counsel patients to seek immediate medical attention should signs or symptoms of CRS occur at any time.
Neurologic Toxicities: Neurologic toxicities, which may be severe or life-threatening, occurred following treatment with ABECMA, including concurrently with CRS, after CRS resolution, or in the absence of CRS. CAR T cell-associated neurotoxicity occurred in 28% (36/127) of patients receiving ABECMA, including Grade 3 in 4% (5/127) of patients. One patient had ongoing Grade 2 neurotoxicity at the time of death. Two patients had ongoing Grade 1 tremor at the time of data cutoff. The median time to onset of neurotoxicity was 2 days (range: 1 – 42 days). CAR T cell-associated neurotoxicity resolved in 92% (33/36) of patients with a median duration of neurotoxicity was 5 days (range: 1 – 61 days). The median duration of neurotoxicity was 6 days (range: 1 – 578) in all patients including those with ongoing neurotoxicity at the time of death or data cut off. Thirty-four patients with neurotoxicity had CRS. Neurotoxicity had onset in 3 patients before, 29 patients during, and 2 patients after CRS. The rate of Grade 3 neurotoxicity was 8% in the 450 x 106 CAR+ T cell dose cohort and 1.4% in the 300 x 106 CAR+ T cell dose cohort. The most frequently reported (greater than or equal to 5%) manifestations of CAR T cell-associated neurotoxicity include encephalopathy (20%), tremor (9%), aphasia (7%), and delirium (6%). Grade 4 neurotoxicity and cerebral edema in 1 patient has been reported with ABECMA in another study in multiple myeloma. Grade 3 myelitis and Grade 3 parkinsonism have been reported after treatment with ABECMA in another study in multiple myeloma.
Monitor patients at least daily for 7 days following ABECMA infusion at the REMS-certified healthcare facility for signs and symptoms of neurologic toxicities. Rule out other causes of neurologic symptoms. Monitor patients for signs or symptoms of neurologic toxicities for at least 4 weeks after infusion and treat promptly. Neurologic toxicity should be managed with supportive care and/or corticosteroids as needed.
Counsel patients to seek immediate medical attention should signs or symptoms of neurologic toxicity occur at any time.
Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH)/Macrophage Activation Syndrome (MAS): HLH/MAS occurred in 4% (5/127) of patients receiving ABECMA. One patient treated in the 300 x 106 CAR+ T cell dose cohort developed fatal multi-organ HLH/MAS with CRS. In another patient with fatal bronchopulmonary aspergillosis, HLH/MAS was contributory to the fatal outcome. Three cases of Grade 2 HLH/MAS resolved. The rate of HLH/MAS was 8% in the 450 x 106 CAR+ T cell dose cohort and 1% in the 300 x 106 CAR+ T cell dose cohort. All events of HLH/MAS had onset within 10 days of receiving ABECMA with a median onset of 7 days (range: 4-9 days) and occurred in the setting of ongoing or worsening CRS. Two patients with HLH/MAS had overlapping neurotoxicity. The manifestations of HLH/MAS include hypotension, hypoxia, multiple organ dysfunction, renal dysfunction, and cytopenia. HLH/MAS is a potentially life-threatening condition with a high mortality rate if not recognized early and treated. Treatment of HLH/MAS should be administered per institutional standards.
ABECMA REMS: Due to the risk of CRS and neurologic toxicities, ABECMA is available only through a restricted program under a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) called the ABECMA REMS. Further information is available at www.AbecmaREMS.com or 1-888-423-5436.
Hypersensitivity Reactions: Allergic reactions may occur with the infusion of ABECMA. Serious hypersensitivity reactions, including anaphylaxis, may be due to dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) in ABECMA.
Infections: ABECMA should not be administered to patients with active infections or inflammatory disorders. Severe, life-threatening, or fatal infections occurred in patients after ABECMA infusion. Infections (all grades) occurred in 70% of patients. Grade 3 or 4 infections occurred in 23% of patients. Overall, 4 patients had Grade 5 infections (3%); 2 patients (1.6%) had Grade 5 events of pneumonia, 1 patient (0.8%) had Grade 5 bronchopulmonary aspergillosis, and 1 patient (0.8%) had cytomegalovirus (CMV) pneumonia associated with Pneumocystis jirovecii. Monitor patients for signs and symptoms of infection before and after ABECMA infusion and treat appropriately. Administer prophylactic, preemptive, and/or therapeutic antimicrobials according to standard institutional guidelines.
Febrile neutropenia was observed in 16% (20/127) of patients after ABECMA infusion and may be concurrent with CRS. In the event of febrile neutropenia, evaluate for infection and manage with broad spectrum antibiotics, fluids, and other supportive care as medically indicated.
Viral Reactivation: Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection resulting in pneumonia and death has occurred following ABECMA administration. Monitor and treat for CMV reactivation in accordance with clinical guidelines. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) reactivation, in some cases resulting in fulminant hepatitis, hepatic failure, and death, can occur in patients treated with drugs directed against plasma cells. Perform screening for CMV, HBV, hepatitis C virus (HCV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in accordance with clinical guidelines before collection of cells for manufacturing.
Prolonged Cytopenias: Patients may exhibit prolonged cytopenias following lymphodepleting chemotherapy and ABECMA infusion. In the KarMMa study, 41% of patients (52/127) experienced prolonged Grade 3 or 4 neutropenia and 49% (62/127) experienced prolonged Grade 3 or 4 thrombocytopenia that had not resolved by Month 1 following ABECMA infusion. Rate of prolonged neutropenia was 49% in the 450 x 106 CAR+ T cell dose cohort and 34% in the 300 x 106 CAR+ T cell dose cohort. In 83% (43/52) of patients who recovered from Grade 3 or 4 neutropenia after Month 1, the median time to recovery from ABECMA infusion was 1.9 months. In 65% (40/62) of patients who recovered from Grade 3 or 4 thrombocytopenia, the median time to recovery was 2.1 months. Median time to cytopenia recovery was similar across the 300 and 450 x 106 dose cohort.
Three patients underwent stem cell therapy for hematopoietic reconstitution due to prolonged cytopenia. Two of the three patients died from complications of prolonged cytopenia. Monitor blood counts prior to and after ABECMA infusion. Manage cytopenia with myeloid growth factor and blood product transfusion support according to institutional guidelines.
Hypogammaglobulinemia: Plasma cell aplasia and hypogammaglobulinemia can occur in patients receiving treatment with ABECMA. Hypogammaglobulinemia was reported as an adverse event in 21% (27/127) of patients; laboratory IgG levels fell below 500 mg/dl after infusion in 25% (32/127) of patients treated with ABECMA.
Monitor immunoglobulin levels after treatment with ABECMA and administer IVIG for IgG <400 mg/dl. Manage per local institutional guidelines, including infection precautions and antibiotic or antiviral prophylaxis.
The safety of immunization with live viral vaccines during or following ABECMA treatment has not been studied. Vaccination with live virus vaccines is not recommended for at least 6 weeks prior to the start of lymphodepleting chemotherapy, during ABECMA treatment, and until immune recovery following treatment with ABECMA.
Secondary Malignancies: Patients treated with ABECMA may develop secondary malignancies. Monitor life-long for secondary malignancies. If a secondary malignancy occurs, contact Bristol Myers Squibb at 1-888-805-4555 to obtain instructions on patient samples to collect for testing of secondary malignancy of T cell origin.
Effects on Ability to Drive and Operate Machinery: Due to the potential for neurologic events, including altered mental status or seizures, patients receiving ABECMA are at risk for altered or decreased consciousness or coordination in the 8 weeks following ABECMA infusion. Advise patients to refrain from driving and engaging in hazardous occupations or activities, such as operating heavy or potentially dangerous machinery, during this initial period.
Adverse Reactions: The most common nonlaboratory adverse reactions (incidence greater than or equal to 20%) include CRS, infections – pathogen unspecified, fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, hypogammaglobulinemia, diarrhea, upper respiratory tract infection, nausea, viral infections, encephalopathy, edema, pyrexia, cough, headache, and decreased appetite.
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Learn more about the science behind cell therapy and ongoing research at Bristol Myers Squibb here.
About Bristol Myers Squibb
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- International Myeloma Foundation. What is Multiple Myeloma? Available at: https://www.myeloma.org/what-is-multiple-myeloma. Accessed June 2021.
- International Myeloma Foundation. Glossary of Myeloma Terms and Definitions. Available at: https://www.myeloma.org/resource-library/glossary-myeloma-terms-definitions. Accessed June 2021.
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