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Squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN) is an anatomically and biologically heterogeneous disease, which has historically proven a complex challenge for drug development. In recent years considerable advancements have been made, predominantly due to the emergence of immune checkpoint inhibitors. Merck & Co.’s Keytruda became the first immune checkpoint inhibitor to receive FDA approval in 2016, and was the first new drug approval for SCCHN since Eli Lilly/Merck KGaA/Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Erbitux over 10 years ago. Bristol-Myers Squibb’s PD-1 inhibitor Opdivo also received FDA approval in 2016, and EC and was . Clinical trials are now evaluating the role of immune checkpoint inhibitors in earlier stages of the disease and several agents in this class are being positioned for the untapped and lucrative locoregionally advanced SCCHN setting. A plethora of other drug classes are also being explored, including IDO-1 inhibitors, which are also set to contribute to some of the robust market growth throughout the 2016-2026 forecast period.
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