Advancing oncology care: The potential of subcutaneous immunotherapy

A new method of treatment that may simplify immunotherapy administration

June 17, 2024     

At Bristol Myers Squibb, we are committed to advancing cancer care, which extends beyond just the research of innovative treatments. Immunotherapy, for example, has already transformed the treatment landscape for many hard-to-treat tumors in metastatic, advanced and earlier-stage settings, but we still see opportunities to shape and evolve how people can receive their treatment. One of our latest areas of focus: the development of a subcutaneous immunotherapy formulation.

“While intravenous immunotherapy has been the standard of care in many types of cancer for over a decade, we recognize that there is an opportunity to give patients more options on how they receive treatment,” said Vice President, Global Program Lead, Susan Parker. “With the potential to reduce treatment burden and enhance efficiencies in healthcare systems, developing a subcutaneous formulation of our immunotherapy represents an exciting area with great promise, if approved.”

Currently, most approved immunotherapies are administered via an intravenous infusion which takes 30-to-60 minutes and requires care at an infusion center. This can be challenging for patients and their families, requiring lengthy travel times and time spent away from family and work.

Subcutaneous immunotherapy administration, which can be delivered with one injection and, in some cases, in only three-to-five minutes, is an important next step in improving the quality of care for patients. Not only does subcutaneous administration have the potential to dramatically reduce the time it takes to receive treatment, but there may be flexibility to receive treatment outside of an infusion center. It may also eliminate the need for an infusion port, which is often associated with injection site complications and, for patients, can be a daily reminder that they have cancer.

“We recognize the burden that comes with a cancer diagnosis. Our hope is that we can provide an alternative approach to delivering immunotherapy that alleviates some of the burden associated with cancer treatment and puts more time back in the hands of the patient and their caregivers,” said Parker.   

For healthcare professionals, subcutaneous delivery may have the capability to strengthen healthcare resource utilization by reducing drug preparation and administration time. Workflow efficiency also has the potential to improve with subcutaneous delivery, as reduced administration time can lead to decongestion of healthcare facilities. It is our hope that these possible efficiencies for healthcare professionals allow them more time to provide care for patients in need.

 “We are dedicated to continuing the advancement of care that takes into account the whole patient experience and we are excited about the future of subcutaneous administration,” said Parker. “We are grateful to all of the researchers, patients and physicians who are working together to research alternative treatment administration options like subcutaneous immunotherapy.” 

Author: Susan Parker
Vice President, Global Program Lead, Product Dosing & Delivery

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