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Patient taking cancer drug Opdivo dies in Japan

  • May 9, 2019
  • , Jiji Press , 11:07 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, May 9 (Jiji Press) — Japan’s health ministry said Thursday that a patient taking the cancer drug Opdivo has died, ordering the manufacturer to add a warning on the package insert about a serious adverse effect.

The patient was among the 11 who experienced pituitary dysfunctions after being treated with Opdivo, made by Ono Pharmaceutical Co. 

The medicine, which stimulates the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells, was developed based on Kyoto University Prof. Tasuku Honjo’s research. For the research, he became a cowinner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

The 11 patients experienced abnormalities in the pituitary gland, which produces growth and other hormones.

The current package insert calls on recipients to take regular pituitary tests during administration of the medicine.

Ono Pharmaceutical said that given the medicine’s effect of strengthening the immune reaction, the possibility cannot be ruled out that its administration triggered the dysfunctions.

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