OREANDA-NEWS. Despite a slight drop in the number of FDA drug approvals during first half 2015 (1H15), treatments for cancer remain an important component of pharmaceutical companies' R&D pipelines, according to a new Fitch Ratings report.

One-third of all drugs approved by the FDA this year were cancer treatments, and positive early data on several drugs this summer indicate that the focus on these treatments will continue.

"The clinical data presented at and since the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference indicate that the efficacy of new cancer treatments will remain top of mind for pharmaceutical companies, even as pricing and value become part of the discussion," says Bob Kirby, Director.

Among checkpoint inhibitors, Bristol-Myers Squibb's Opdivo and Merck's Keytruda showed positive survival data in skin and lung cancer. Other drugs in this class also showed early signs of improvement among solid tumor types, including liver, head and neck and gastroesophageal tumors.

Several pharmaceutical companies made headway in multiple myeloma treatments, with Johnson & Johnson initiating a rolling submission of daratumumab to the FDA for patients with the disease during 2Q15.

Leukemia treatments also brought encouragement. Data on Johnson & Johnson and Genmab's Imbruvica showed positive results, while the FDA granted breakthrough therapy designation for AbbVie and Roche's ventoclax.

The full report, "Global Pharmaceutical R&D Pipeline: Data on Cancer Treatments in Focus," is available at www.fitchratings.com, or by clicking on the link.