Prix Galien Canada Research 2013
Dr. Francis Allan Plummer
Dr. Allan Francis Plummer accepts the Prix Galien Canada 2013 - research Award from Dr. Jacques Gagné, President of the Jury of Prix Galien Canada.
Prix Galien Canada Innovative Drug Product 2013
The Prix Galien Canada 2013 – Innovative Drug Product is awarded to ipilimumab (Yervoy) marketed by Bristol Myers Squibb Canada. Ipilimumab (Yervoy) is a fully humanized IgG1 monoclonal antibody that blocks cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4), a negative regulator of T-cells, thereby augmenting T-cell activation and proliferation, thus making the immune system tolerant to foreign antigens. Many cancer patients have increased expression of CTLA-4 and blocking CTLA-4 helps to restore the immune response to cancer cells and allows the patient's immune system to fight the tumor. Yervoy is the first of the antibodies directed at CTLA-4 to increase the immune response and to be used as an anti-cancer agent.
Dr. Awny Farajallah, Vice-President, Medical, Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada accepts the award from Dr. Jacques Gagné, President of the Jury of Prix Galien Canada.
The product was marketed by Bristol Myers Squibb in Canada in early 2012 following a Phase III trial of 676 patients with unresectable metatastic melanoma that progressed during systemic therapy. There were initially three arms to the study, one combining ipilimumab with a gp100 vaccine, another with ipilimumab alone or with the vaccine alone. Both arms with ipilimumab showed significant improvement over the use of the vaccine alone, improving the overall survival of the patients with matastatic melanoma Stage 3-4. This study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Until this time, dacarbazine was the standard of care for metastatic melanoma. An additional Phase III study was undertaken in previously untreated patients with metastatic melanoma with two arms: one with ipilimumab plus dacarbazine vs dacarbazine plus placebo. The ipilimumab arm showed longer overall survival. Additional studies were reported in patients with melanoma and brain metastases in Lancet Oncology and concluded that ipilimumab once again was beneficial, paricularly when the metastases were smaller and asymptomatic.
Because ipilimumab is an immune stimulant, response does not occur rapidly and may even look like disease progression initially. Immune adverse effects such as autoimmune hepatitis, GI symptoms and swelling of the tumor sites are common and have resulted in drug-related deaths during the clinical trials although the company has developed an algorithm for managing the adverse effects. However, the patient consultation in the use of this innovative product has strongly favoured its licensing despite the risk of adverse drug effects given the devastating disease that metastatic melanoma represents. Since the availability of this drug, there have been numerous case reports of complete remission of the disease with occasional long-term survival being recorded.
Ipilimumab has been accepted by the Pan-Canadian Oncology Review panel
In summary, Ipilimumab is an innovative product that has changed the landscape of treatment of metastatic melanoma, a disease that affects about 900 Canadians a year. It has been a very significant addition to the therapy of metastatic melanoma and may possibly open the door to novel therapies of other metastatic cancers.
The 2013 Rx&D Health Research Foundation Medal of Honour awarded to Dr Julio Montaner and the Honourable Kelvin K. Oglivie
The Rx&D Health Research Foundation has awarded un 2013 its prestigious Medal of Honour to two worthy nominees. Dr. Julio Montaner and the Honourable Kelvin K. Ogilvie received the Medal of Honour for their outstanding contributions to health sciences and public health innovation.
Dr. Julio Montaner holds an endowed Chair in AIDS Research at SPH /UBC, is the Director of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and a former President of the International AIDS Society. He has played a key role in establishing the efficacy of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) and has pioneered the implementation of ‘Treatment as Prevention’ (TasP), which calls for the expansion of HAART coverage to simultaneously decrease progression to AIDS and death, as well as to prevent HIV transmission. TasP has now gained global acceptance as the most promising means to control the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
The Honourable Kelvin K. Ogilvie is a leading expert on biotechnology, bioorganic chemistry and genetic engineering. His scientific accomplishments include the development of the “Gene Machine”, an automated process for the manufacture of DNA. He is the inventor of Ganciclovir, a drug used worldwide to fight infections that occur when the immune system is weakened. Among numerous awards, he was named a Steacie Fellow in 1992, admitted to the Order of Canada in 1991, inducted into the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame in 2011 and received the Biomedical Science Ambassador Award in 2012. Dr. Ogilvie has achieved and continues to achieve tremendous success within multiple scientific fields.