European Medicines Agency recommends marketing approval for Bristol Myers' Chimeric (CAR) T cell therapy, Abecma idecabtagene vicleucel for relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma patients; the recommendation is based on results from the KarMMa-3 study

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PRINCETON, New Jersey , January 26, 2024 (press release) –

Recommendation for approval based on Phase 3 KarMMa-3 study in which Abecma demonstrated superiority over standard regimens, significantly improved progression-free survival and a well-established safety profile with mostly low-grade occurrences of cytokine release syndrome and neurotoxicity

This is the first positive CHMP opinion in earlier lines of therapy for a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy in the treatment of relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma

Approval by the European Commission would expand Abecma’s indication,making it the first CAR T cell therapy available in the European Union

Bristol Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) today announced the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has recommended marketing authorization approval of Abecma® (idecabtagene vicleucel; ide-cel) for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma who have received at least two prior therapies, including an immunomodulatory agent (IMiD), a proteasome inhibitor (PI), and an anti-CD38 monoclonal antibody. The European Commission (EC), which has the authority to approve medicines for the European Union (EU), will now review the CHMP recommendation.

“This positive CHMP opinion represents an important step toward bringing our potentially transformative first-in-class anti-BCMA CAR T cell therapy, Abecma, to more patients earlier in the multiple myeloma treatment paradigm to improve outcomes,” said Anne Kerber, M.D., senior vice president and head, Late Clinical Development, Hematology, Oncology, Cell Therapy (HOCT), Bristol Myers Squibb. “We look forward to working with the European Commission with the shared goal of delivering innovative treatment options to more patients with continued unmet need.”

The CHMP adopted a positive opinion based on the final progression-free survival (PFS) analysis from the pivotal, Phase 3, open-label, global, randomized, controlled KarMMa-3 study evaluating Abecma compared with standard combination regimens in adults with relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma after two to four prior lines of therapy, including an IMiD, a PI, and an anti-CD38 monoclonal antibody, which are the three main classes of therapy (triple-class exposed) in multiple myeloma, and who were refractory to their last regimen. Results recently presented at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting in December 2023 showed, at a median follow-up of 30.9 months (range: 12.7-47.8), Abecma significantly improved PFS compared with standard regimens, with a median PFS of 13.8 months vs. 4.4 months (HR:0.49; 95% CI: 0.38-0.63), representing a 51% reduction in the risk of disease progression or death with Abecma.

Results for the key secondary endpoint of overall response rate showed the majority of patients (71%; (95% CI: 66-77) treated with Abecma achieved a response, with 44% (95% CI: 38-50) achieving a complete response or stringent complete response. In comparison, less than half of patients (41%; 95% CI: 34-51) who received standard regimens achieved a response, with 5% (95% CI: 2-9) experiencing a complete response or stringent complete response.

Treatment with Abecma exhibited a well-established safety profile, with mostly low-grade and transient occurrences of cytokine release syndrome (CRS) and neurotoxicity. In patients treated with Abecma, 88% experienced any grade CRS, with Grade 3/4 events occurring in 4% of patients. Two patients (1%) experienced a Grade 5 CRS event. Any grade neurotoxicity occurred in 15% of patients, with Grade 3/4 neurotoxicity occurring in 3% of patients, and no Grade 5 events reported.

In the EU, the EC delivers its final decision approximately two months following receipt of the CHMP opinion. The decision will be applicable to all EU member states and Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.* Please see the Important Safety Information section below, including Boxed WARNINGS for Abecma regarding cytokine release syndrome, neurologic toxicities, Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis/Macrophage Activation Syndrome and Prolonged Cytopenia. A supplemental Biologics License Application for Abecma in earlier lines of therapy for triple-class exposed relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma is currently under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee of the FDA will convene a meeting to review data from KarMMa-3 supporting the application. Abecma is also approved in Japan for adult patients with triple-class exposed relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma after two prior lines of therapy, and in the EU, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Israel for adult patients with triple-class exposed relapsed and/or refractory multiple myeloma after three to four or more prior lines of therapy.

Bristol Myers Squibb thanks the patients and investigators involved in the KarMMa-3 study.

*Centralized Marketing Authorization does not include approval in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales).

About KarMMa-3

KarMMa-3 (NCT03651128) is a pivotal, Phase 3, open-label, global, randomized, controlled trial evaluating Abecma compared to standard regimens in patients with relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma who have received two to four prior lines of treatment, including an immunomodulatory agent, a proteasome inhibitor, and an anti-CD38 monoclonal antibody, and were refractory to the last treatment regimen. Patients were randomized to receive Abecma or standard regimens that consisted of combinations that included daratumumab, pomalidomide, and dexamethasone (DPd), daratumumab, bortezomib, and dexamethasone (DVd), ixazomib, lenalidomide, and dexamethasone (IRd), carfilzomib and dexamethasone (Kd) or elotuzumab, pomalidomide and dexamethasone (EPd) chosen based on their most recent treatment regimen and investigator discretion. The primary endpoint evaluated in this study is progression-free survival, defined as time from randomization to the first documentation of progressive disease or death due to any cause, whichever occurs first. Key secondary endpoints include overall response rate and overall survival.

About Abecma

Abecma is a CAR T cell therapy that 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 between Bristol Myers Squibb and 2seventy bio. Bristol Myers Squibb assumes sole responsibility for Abecma drug product manufacturing and commercialization outside of the U.S.

The companies’ broad clinical development program for Abecma includes ongoing clinical studies (KarMMa-2, KarMMa-3, KarMMa-9) in early lines of treatment for patients with multiple myeloma. For more information visit

Full European Summary of Product Characteristics for Abecma is available from the EMA website at .

Abecma 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


  • 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 in 85% (108/127) of patients. Grade 3 or higher CRS 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). The most common manifestations included pyrexia, hypotension, tachycardia, chills, hypoxia, fatigue, and headache. 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. 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 (single dose: 35%; more than 1 dose: 18%). Overall, 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. 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 or symptoms of CRS and monitor patients for signs or symptoms of CRS for at least 4 weeks after ABECMA 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, including immune effector cell-associated neurotoxicity syndrome (ICANS), which may be severe or life- threatening, occurred concurrently with CRS, after CRS resolution, or in the absence of CRS following treatment with ABECMA. Neurologic toxicities 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 time to resolution of 5 days (range: 1 - 61 days). The median duration of neurotoxicity was 6 days (range: 1 - 578) in all patients including 3 patients with ongoing neurotoxicity. Thirty-four patients with neurotoxicity had CRS with onset in 3 patients before, 29 patients during, and 2 patients after CRS. The most frequently reported manifestations of CAR T cell-associated neurotoxicity include encephalopathy, tremor, aphasia, and delirium. Grade 4 neurotoxicity and cerebral edema in 1 patient, Grade 3 myelitis, and Grade 3 parkinsonism have been reported 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 or symptoms of neurologic toxicities and monitor patients for signs or symptoms of neurologic toxicities for at least 4 weeks after ABECMA infusion and treat promptly. Rule out other causes of neurologic symptoms. Neurologic toxicity should be managed with supportive care and/or corticosteroids as needed.

Counsel patients to seek immediate medical attention should signs or symptoms occur at any time.

Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH)/Macrophage Activation Syndrome (MAS): HLH/MAS occurred in 4% (5/127) of patients receiving ABECMA. One patient developed fatal multi-organ HLH/MAS with CRS and another patient developed fatal bronchopulmonary aspergillosis with contributory HLH/MAS. Three cases of Grade 2 HLH/MAS resolved. 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 guidelines.

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 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, pre-emptive, 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.

Viral Reactivation: 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: In the clinical 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. 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.

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.

Hypogammaglobulinemia: 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 appropriately per local institutional guidelines, including infection precautions and antibiotic or antiviral prophylaxis.

The safety of immunization with live viral vaccines during or after 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, 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 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.

Please see full Prescribing Information, including Boxed WARNINGS and Medication Guide.

Bristol Myers Squibb: Creating a Better Future for People with Cancer

Bristol Myers Squibb is inspired by a single vision — transforming people’s lives through science. The goal of the company’s cancer research is to deliver medicines that offer each patient a better, healthier life and to make cure a possibility. Building on a legacy across a broad range of cancers that have changed survival expectations for many, Bristol Myers Squibb researchers are exploring new frontiers in personalized medicine, and through innovative digital platforms, are turning data into insights that sharpen their focus. Deep scientific expertise, cutting-edge capabilities and discovery platforms enable the company to look at cancer from every angle. Cancer can have a relentless grasp on many parts of a patient’s life, and Bristol Myers Squibb is committed to taking actions to address all aspects of care, from diagnosis to survivorship. Because as a leader in cancer care, Bristol Myers Squibb is working to empower all people with cancer to have a better future.

About Bristol Myers Squibb

Bristol Myers Squibb is a global biopharmaceutical company whose mission is to discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases. For more information about Bristol Myers Squibb, visit us at or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

Forward-Looking Statement of Bristol Myers Squibb

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 the CHMP opinion is not binding on the EC, that Abecma® (idecabtagene vicleucel) 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 treatment for the additional indication described in this release will be commercially successful. 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.


Bristol Myers Squibb

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