Abecma represents the only cell therapy approved for multiple myeloma

Approval of Abecma is based on the pivotal KarMMa trial of patients worldwide, including five European countries, which demonstrated rapid, deep and durable responses with a well-understood and predictable safety profile

Abecma expands upon Bristol Myers Squibb’s leadership in cell therapy research and multiple myeloma, offering an innovative option to patients in need

PRINCETON, NJ, USA I August 19, 2021 IBristol Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) today announced that the European Commission (EC) has granted Conditional Marketing Authorization for Abecma (idecabtagene vicleucel; ide-cel), a first-in-class B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA)-directed chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell immunotherapy, for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma, who have received at least three prior therapies, including an immunomodulatory agent, a proteasome inhibitor and an anti-CD38 antibody and have demonstrated disease progression on the last therapy.

Abecma is the first and only CAR T cell therapy approved that is directed to recognize and bind to BCMA, a protein that is nearly universally expressed on cancer cells in multiple myeloma, leading to the death of BCMA-expressing cells.1Abecma is delivered via a single infusion with a target dose of 420 x 106 CAR-positive viable T cells within a range of 260 to 500 x 106 CAR-positive viable T cells. Abecma is approved for use in all European Union (EU) member states.*

“The EC approval of Abecma is an important milestone for the treatment of multiple myeloma, and moves us closer to offering a first-in-class, personalized therapy to patients in Europe battling this incurable disease after exhausting prior treatment options with the three standards of care,” said Samit Hirawat, M.D., chief medical officer, Bristol Myers Squibb. “With this third regulatory approval for Abecma worldwide, we are proud to be advancing the science of cell therapy and continuing to bring this first anti-BCMA CAR T cell therapy to patients in need.”

In Europe, nearly 50,000 people are diagnosed with multiple myeloma each year.2 Despite advances in treatment, multiple myeloma remains an incurable disease, and many patients suffer through periods of remission and relapse. Patients with relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma who have been exposed to all three major drug classes often have poor clinical outcomes and few remaining treatment options.3,4,5,6

“In multiple myeloma, when a patient’s cancer is no longer responding to their current treatment regimen or the patient relapses, the disease becomes increasingly difficult to treat,” said Jesus San Miguel, M.D., Ph.D., Medical Director of the Clinica Universidad de Navarra, Navarra, Spain and KarMMa clinical trial investigator. “In the KarMMa trial, treatment with ide-cel proved to elicit deep and durable responses in a significant proportion of patients with triple-class exposed multiple myeloma, including many who were heavily pretreated and had high-risk disease. The approval is important for patients in Europe, as it represents another potential therapeutic option for clinically meaningful outcomes and long-term disease control.”

Bristol Myers Squibb is committed to making Abecma commercially available to patients in the EU. The company is currently focused on several required factors, including treatment center qualification and onboarding, completion of reimbursement procedures and scaling up its manufacturing capacity to meet increasing global demand. The company is also actively pursuing options to expand its manufacturing global supply network to make Abecma available to more patients around the world, including the addition of a European-based manufacturing facility in Leiden, Netherlands. Meanwhile, Bristol Myers Squibb will continue to manufacture Abecma for EU and U.S. patientsat the company’s state-of-the-art cellular immunotherapy manufacturing facility in Summit, New Jersey.

“Multiple myeloma patients who have tried and exhausted multiple rounds of treatment options have been hoping for new and transformative options,” said Brian G.M. Durie, Chairman, International Myeloma Foundation. “The approval of Abecma, an innovative anti-BCMA CAR T cell therapy, is an exciting milestone for patients in the European Union.”

Abecma was granted Conditional Marketing Authorization under the European Medicines Agency PRIME (Priority Medicines) scheme. Conditional Marketing Authorization is granted in the interest of public health where the benefit of immediate availability fulfills a critical unmet need. Conditional Marketing Authorization in the EU is initially valid for one year but can be extended or converted into a full Marketing Authorization after the submission and assessment of additional confirmatory data. For full details on the Special Warnings and Precautions for Use and Adverse Reactions (including appropriate management), please refer to the EU Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC).

Bristol Myers Squibb offers various programs and resources to address the needs of patients and caregivers and help support access to therapies, including Abecma.

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

Abecma Clinical Trial Results

The efficacy of Abecma is based on results from the pivotal KarMMa study in which 128 patients with relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma who had received at least three prior therapies including an immunomodulatory agent, a proteasome inhibitor and an anti-CD38 antibody and were refractory to the last treatment regimen were treated with Abecma.7

In the study, the overall response rate (ORR) was 73% (95% CI: 66-81), and 33% of patients achieved a complete response (CR; 95% CI: 25-41). Onset of response was rapid with a median time to response of one month. In addition, responses were durable, with a median duration of response of 10.6 months (95% CI: 8.0 – 11.4), and 23 months (95% CI: 11.4 – 23.3) for those who achieved a CR.7

In a pooled safety analysis of 184 patients treated with Abecma in the KarMMa and CRB-401 studies, cytokine release syndrome (CRS) occurred in 81% of patients, with Grade >3 CRS, using the Lee grading system, occurring in 5.4% of patients. There was one case of fatal (Grade 5) CRS reported. The median time to onset of CRS was one day (range: 1-17 days) and the median duration of CRS was five days (range: 1-63 days). Any grade neurotoxicity (NT) of the 128 patients receiving Abecma in the KarMMa study occurred in 18% of patients, including Grade 3 events in 3.1% of patients, with no Grade 4 or 5 events occurring. The median time to onset of NT was two days (range: 1-10 days) and the median duration was three days (range: 1-26 days).7

The most common (>20%) adverse reactions in the pooled safety analysis included neutropenia, CRS, anaemia, thrombocytopenia, infections – pathogen unspecified, leucopenia, fatigue, diarrhoea, hypokalaemia, hypophosphataemia, nausea, lymphopenia, pyrexia, cough, hypocalcaemia, infections – viral, headache, hypomagnesaemia, upper respiratory tract infection, arthralgia, and oedema peripheral. The most common Grade 3 or 4 adverse reactions were neutropenia (88.6%), anaemia (58.2%), thrombocytopenia (53.5%), leucopenia (45.1%), lymphopenia (30.4%), infections – pathogen unspecified (17.9%), hypophosphataemia (17.4%), febrile neutropenia (14.7%), hypocalcaemia (7.1%), infections – viral (7.1%), pneumonia (6.0%), CRS (5.4%), hypertension (5.4%) and hyponatraemia (5.4%).7

Please see full Prescribing Information, including Boxed WARNINGS and Medication Guide, and Summary of Product Characteristics for ABECMA.

About Abecma

Abecma is the first-in-class B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA)-directed chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell immunotherapy, first approved in the U.S. in March 2021 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. Abecma is also approved in Canada for relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma. Abecma 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 with Bristol Myers Squibb and bluebird bio. Bristol Myers Squibb will assume sole responsibility for Abecma drug product manufacturing and commercialization outside of the U.S.

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

Bristol Myers Squibb is inspired by a single vision—transforming patients’ 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.

Learn more about the science behind cell therapy and ongoing research at Bristol Myers Squibb here.

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 BMS.com or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

Celgene and Juno Therapeutics are wholly owned subsidiaries of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company. In certain countries outside the U.S., due to local laws, Celgene and Juno Therapeutics are referred to as, Celgene, a Bristol Myers Squibb company and Juno Therapeutics, a Bristol Myers Squibb company.


  1. Cho, S.F., Anderson, K., Tai, Y.T. (2018). Targeting B Cell Maturation Antigen (BCMA) in Multiple Myeloma: Potential Uses of BCMA-Based Immunotherapy. Frontiers in Immunology, (9)1821. 1-15.
  2. World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer. Multiple Myeloma. Available at https://gco.iarc.fr/today/data/factsheets/cancers/35-Multiple-myeloma-fact-sheet.pdf. Accessed July 2021.
  3. Kumar S K, Lee J H, Lahuerta J J, et al. Risk of progression and survival in multiple myeloma relapsing after therapy with IMiDs and bortezomib: A multicenter international myeloma working group study. Leukemia. 2012;26(1):149-157. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21799510.
  4. Gandhi Ujjawal, Cornell Robert, Lakshman Arjun, et al. Outcomes of patients with multiple myeloma refractory to CD38-targeted monoclonal antibody therapy. Leukemia. 2019;33(9). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30858549.
  5. Lonial, Lee, Badros, et al. Belantamab mafodotin for relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma (DREAMM-2): a two-arm, randomised, open-label, phase 2 study. Lancet Oncol. 2020;21(2):207-221. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31859245.
  6. Jagannath S, Lin Y, Goldschmidt H, et al. KarMMa-RW: A study of real-world treatment patterns in heavily pretreated patients with relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma (RRMM) and comparison of outcomes to KarMMa [Poster]. Poster presented at: 2020 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting; May 29-31, 2020; Virtual Meeting.
  7. Abecma (idecabtagene vicleucel) Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC), 2021.

SOURCE: Bristol Myers Squibb