News Releases


Eligible Ontario residents with difficult-to-treat advanced cancers can now access an innovative new treatment option without having to pay out-of-pocket

Opdivo , Immunoscience


Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada Co. (BMS Canada) today announced that Cancer Care Ontario and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care have agreed to cover the cost of the immuno-oncology treatment OPDIVO® for three different difficult-to-treat tumour types, effective March 21, 2017.

The listing of OPDIVO® means that eligible residents of Ontario with metastatic melanoma[i], locally advanced or metastatic pre-treated non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)I and advanced or metastatic pre-treated renal cell carcinoma (RCC)i will be able to receive the immuno-oncology treatment, free-of-charge through the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) program.

Cancer remains the leading cause of death in Canada.[ii] In Ontario, an estimated 29,000 people died of cancer last year, and 77,700 new cases were diagnosed. Lung cancer is among the most commonly diagnosed cancers in Ontario and is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the province, with approximately 7,100 deaths in 2016.[iii]   

“Ontario’s decision to cover the cost of OPDIVO® is a huge milestone for patients who are now able to access this immuno-oncology treatment,” said Dr. Rosalyn Juergens, Associate Professor of Oncology, McMaster University, and medical oncologist, Juravinski Cancer Centre. “Immuno-oncology is truly revolutionizing cancer care.  OPDIVO® has the potential to extend survival with generally fewer side effects providing greater quality-of-life for people living with advanced cancers such as melanoma, lung and kidney cancers.”  

The decision by Cancer Care Ontario and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care follows an agreement signed last month between BMS Canada and the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA) which opened the door for provincial, federal and territorial jurisdictions to make their own decisions to publicly reimburse the treatment for their residents.  The health authorities in British Columbia, the Yukon and Manitoba have also recently agreed to cover the cost of OPDIVO® for eligible residents.


OPDIVO®is a programmed death-1 (PD-1) immune checkpoint inhibitor that is designed to uniquely harness the body’s own immune system to help restore anti-tumor immune response. By harnessing the body’s own immune system to fight cancer, OPDIVO® has become an important treatment option across multiple cancers.

OPDIVO®’s leading global development program is based on Bristol-Myers Squibb’s scientific expertise in the field of Immuno-Oncology and includes a broad range of clinical trials across all phases, including Phase 3, in a variety of tumor types. To date, the OPDIVO® clinical development program has enrolled more than 25,000 patients. The OPDIVO® trials have contributed to gaining a deeper understanding of the potential role of biomarkers in patient care, particularly regarding how patients may benefit from OPDIVO® across the continuum of PD-L1 expression.

In July 2014, OPDIVO® was the first PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitor to receive regulatory approval anywhere in the world. OPDIVO® is currently approved in more than 60 countries, including Canada, the United States, the European Union and Japan. In October 2015, the company’s OPDIVO® + YERVOY® combination regimen was the first Immuno-Oncology combination to receive regulatory approval for the treatment of metastatic melanoma and is currently approved in more than 50 countries, including the United States and the European Union.

Bristol-Myers Squibb: At the Forefront of Immuno-Oncology Science & Innovation 

At Bristol-Myers Squibb, patients are at the center of everything we do. Our vision for the future of cancer care is focused on researching and developing transformational Immuno-Oncology (I-O) medicines that will raise survival expectations in hard-to-treat cancers and will change the way patients live with cancer.

We are leading the scientific understanding of I-O through our extensive portfolio of investigational and approved agents, including the first combination of two I-O agents in metastatic melanoma, and our differentiated clinical development program, which is studying broad patient populations across more than 20 types of cancers with 11 clinical-stage molecules designed to target different immune system pathways. Our deep expertise and innovative clinical trial designs uniquely position us to advance the science of combinations across multiple tumors and potentially deliver the next wave of I-O combination regimens with a sense of urgency. We also continue to pioneer research that will help facilitate a deeper understanding of the role of immune biomarkers and inform which patients will benefit most from I-O therapies.

We understand making the promise of I-O a reality for the many patients who may benefit from these therapies requires not only innovation on our part but also close collaboration with leading experts in the field. Our partnerships with academia, government, advocacy and biotech companies support our collective goal of providing new treatment options to advance the standards of clinical practice.

About Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada Co.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada Co. is an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, 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 global operations, visit Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada Co. has been delivering innovative medicines for serious diseases to Canadian patients in the areas of cardiovascular health, oncology, neuroscience, immunoscience and virology for over 80 years. Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada Co. employs over 300 people across the country. For more information, please visit