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Bristol Myers Squibb Presents Primary Efficacy and Safety Analysis of the Phase 3 COMMANDS Trial of Reblozyl for Treatment of Anemia in Erythropoiesis Stimulating Agent-Naïve Patients with Lower-Risk Myelodysplastic Syndromes at ASH 2023

New data confirm findings consistent with interim analysis, reaffirming superior efficacy and significantly longer durability of response with Reblozyl® (luspatercept-aamt) compared to epoetin alfa

Bristol Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) announced updated results from the primary analysis of the Phase 3 COMMANDS trial, comparing Reblozyl® (luspatercept-aamt) versus epoetin alfa for the treatment of anemia in erythropoiesis stimulating agent (ESA)-naïve patients with lower-risk myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) (Oral Presentation #193) who may require red blood cell (RBC) transfusions. These data are being presented in an oral presentation at the 2023 American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting, from December 9-12.

“These data from the COMMANDS trial, including additional patients and longer follow-up from the data shown at ASCO, confirm the positive outcome of the interim analysis with superior efficacy and durability compared to ESAs and exemplify how Reblozyl may impact the treatment of anemia related to MDS,” said Guillermo Garcia-Manero, M.D., lead investigator and Chief of the Section of Myelodysplastic Syndromes at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. “Further, beyond the intent-to-treat population, the analysis confirms that Reblozyl demonstrated clinical benefit across subgroups.”

Results from COMMANDS are under review with the European Commission and served as the basis of a priority review approval by the United States Food and Drug Administration in August 2023 for Reblozyl as a treatment for anemia in ESA-naïve adult patients with very low- to intermediate-risk MDS who may require regular RBC transfusions. Reblozyl is being developed and commercialized through a global collaboration with Merck as of November 2021.

COMMANDS Primary Results

At the time of the primary analysis (March 31, 2023), 363 patients were randomized 1:1 to Reblozyl and epoetin alfa. Results from the primary analysis of the intent to treat (ITT) population showed:

  • 60.4% (n=110) of patients receiving Reblozyl vs. 34.8% (n=63) of patients receiving epoetin alfa achieved the primary endpoint of RBC-TI of at least 12 weeks with concurrent mean hemoglobin (Hb) increase of at least 1.5 g/dL within the first 24 weeks (p<0.0001).
  • Erythroid response (HI-E) increase of at least 8 weeks was achieved by 74.2% (n=135) of Reblozyl patients vs. 53% (n=96) of epoetin alfa patients (p<0.0001).
  • RBC transfusion independence (RBC-TI) of at least 12 weeks was achieved by 68.1% (n=124) of Reblozyl patients vs. 48.6% (n=88) of epoetin alfa patients (p<0.0001).
  • Duration of response was 126.6 weeks (99-NE) for Reblozyl in patients who achieved TI for at least 12 weeks (achieved weeks 1-24) compared to 89.7 weeks (61.9-123.9) for epoetin alfa (Hazard Ratio [HR]: 0.586; 95% Confidence Interval [CI]: 0.380-0.904, p=0.0147).

“As patients with lower-risk MDS often receive limited benefit from current standard therapies, including ESAs, these confirmatory data further show how Reblozyl has the potential to create a paradigm shift in the treatment of anemia associated with this disease,” said Anne Kerber, senior vice president, Head of Late Clinical Development, Hematology, Oncology, Cell Therapy (HOCT), Bristol Myers Squibb.

Safety results were consistent with previous MDS studies, and progression to acute myeloid leukemia and total deaths were similar between arms of the study. The most common treatment-emergent adverse events in at least 10% of patients were diarrhea, fatigue, COVID-19, hypertension, dyspnea, nausea, peripheral edema, asthenia, dizziness, anemia, back pain and headache. Rates of reported fatigue and asthenia were shown to decrease over time.

In addition to the overall benefit observed in the ITT population, sub-analyses confirmed similar or greater RBC-TI of Reblozyl compared to epoetin alfa regardless of mutational profile, IPSS-M status, ring sideroblast status, transfusion burden and serum erythropoietin (sEPO) level. Duration of RBC-TI favored Reblozyl across all subgroups, including ring sideroblast status.

Finally, three posters will be presented highlighting additional analyses of the COMMANDS study and the mechanism of Reblozyl.

  • Reblozyl showed favorability over epoetin alfa in various mutational background observed in lower-risk MDS in an analysis of response by mutational burden (Poster Presentation #4591).
  • An analysis of clonal-hematopoiesis related mutations (Poster Presentation #3214) showed that 85% of patients in the COMMANDS study had at least one CHIP-related mutation. Further, Reblozyl was associated with the downregulation of inflammatory gene signatures and upregulation of anti-inflammatory pathways.
  • In another analysis (Poster Presentation #1845), Reblozyl was associated with modulation of inflammation and restoration of effective erythropoiesis in bone marrow samples from the COMMANDS study, reinforcing its role in the expansion and maturation of early and late-stage erythroid precursors.


COMMANDS (NCT03682536) is a Phase 3, open-label, randomized study evaluating the efficacy and safety of Reblozyl versus epoetin alfa for the treatment of anemia due to very low-, low- or intermediate-risk (IPSS-R) myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) in patients who are red blood cell (RBC) transfusion dependent and were erythropoiesis stimulating agent (ESA)-naïve.

The primary endpoint evaluated in this study is RBC transfusion independence (RBC-TI) for 12 weeks with a mean hemoglobin (Hb) increase ≥1.5 g/dL. Key secondary endpoints include erythroid response (HI-E) of at least 8 weeks during weeks 1-24 of the study, RBC-TI ≥12 weeks and RBC-TI for 24 weeks. Eligible patients were ≥18 years old with lower-risk MDS who require transfusions. Patients were randomized 1:1 to receive subcutaneous Reblozyl (starting dose 1.0 mg/kg, titration up to 1.75 mg/kg) once every 3 weeks or epoetin alfa (starting dose 450 IU/kg, titration up to 1050 IU/kg) weekly for ≥24 weeks. The majority of study participants (>90%) were outside of the United States and a non-U.S.-licensed epoetin alfa product was used in the control arm for such patients.

About MDS

Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a group of closely related blood cancers characterized by ineffective production of healthy red blood cells (RBC), white blood cells and platelets, which can lead to anemia and frequent or severe infections. People with MDS who develop anemia often require blood transfusions to increase the number of healthy RBCs in circulation. Frequent transfusions are associated with an increased risk of iron overload, transfusion reactions and infections. Patients who become RBC transfusion-dependent have a significantly shorter overall survival than those who are not dependent on transfusions, partially due to iron overload or to more severe bone marrow disease than in non-transfusion dependent patients.

About Reblozyl® (luspatercept-aamt)

REBLOZYL® (luspatercept-aamt), a first-in-class therapeutic option, promotes late-stage red blood cell maturation in animal models. REBLOZYL is being developed and commercialized through a global collaboration and North American co-promotion with Merck following Merck’s acquisition of Acceleron Pharma, Inc. in November 2021. REBLOZYL is indicated in the U.S. for the treatment of:

  • anemia in adult patients with beta thalassemia who require regular red blood cell (RBC) transfusions.
  • anemia without previous erythropoiesis stimulating agent use (ESA-naïve) in adult patients with very low- to intermediate-risk myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) who may require regular red blood cell (RBC) transfusions.
  • anemia failing an erythropoiesis stimulating agent and requiring 2 or more red blood cell (RBC) units over 8 weeks in adult patients with very low- to intermediate-risk myelodysplastic syndrome with ring sideroblasts (MDS-RS) or with myelodysplastic/myeloproliferative neoplasm with ring sideroblasts and thrombocytosis (MDS/MPN-RS-T).

REBLOZYL is not indicated for use as a substitute for RBC transfusions in patients who require immediate correction of anemia. In the U.S., REBLOZYL is not indicated for use in patients with non-transfusion-dependent beta thalassemia.

U.S. Important Safety Information



In adult patients with beta thalassemia, thromboembolic events (TEE) were reported in 8/223 (3.6%) of REBLOZYL-treated patients. TEEs included deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolus, portal vein thrombosis, and ischemic stroke. Patients with known risk factors for thromboembolism (splenectomy or concomitant use of hormone replacement therapy) may be at further increased risk of thromboembolic conditions. Consider thromboprophylaxis in patients at increased risk of TEE. Monitor patients for signs and symptoms of thromboembolic events and institute treatment promptly.


Hypertension was reported in 11.4% (63/554) of REBLOZYL-treated patients. Across clinical studies, the incidence of Grade 3 to 4 hypertension ranged from 2% to 9.6%. In patients with beta thalassemia with normal baseline blood pressure, 13 (6.2%) patients developed systolic blood pressure (SBP) ≥130 mm Hg and 33 (16.6%) patients developed diastolic blood pressure (DBP) ≥80 mm Hg. In ESA-refractory or -intolerant adult patients with MDS with normal baseline blood pressure, 26 (30%) patients developed SBP ≥130 mm Hg and 23 (16%) patients developed DBP ≥80 mm Hg. In ESA-naïve adult patients with MDS with normal baseline blood pressure, 23 (36%) patients developed SBP ≥140 mm Hg and 11 (6%) patients developed DBP ≥80 mm Hg. Monitor blood pressure prior to each administration. Manage new or exacerbations of preexisting hypertension using anti-hypertensive agents.

Extramedullary Hematopoietic (EMH) Masses

In adult patients with transfusion-dependent beta thalassemia, EMH masses were observed in 3.2% of REBLOZYL-treated patients, with spinal cord compression symptoms due to EMH masses occurring in 1.9% of patients (BELIEVE and REBLOZYL long-term follow-up study).

In a study of adult patients with non-transfusion-dependent beta thalassemia, a higher incidence of EMH masses was observed in 6.3% of REBLOZYL-treated patients vs. 2% of placebo-treated patients in the double-blind phase of the study, with spinal cord compression due to EMH masses occurring in 1 patient with a prior history of EMH. REBLOZYL is not indicated for use in patients with non-transfusion-dependent beta thalassemia.

Possible risk factors for the development of EMH masses in patients with beta thalassemia include history of EMH masses, splenectomy, splenomegaly, hepatomegaly, or low baseline hemoglobin (<8.5 g/dL). Signs and symptoms may vary depending on the anatomical location. Monitor patients with beta thalassemia at initiation and during treatment for symptoms and signs or complications resulting from the EMH masses and treat according to clinical guidelines. Discontinue treatment with REBLOZYL in case of serious complications due to EMH masses. Avoid use of REBLOZYL in patients requiring treatment to control the growth of EMH masses.

Embryo-Fetal Toxicity

REBLOZYL may cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. REBLOZYL caused increased post-implantation loss, decreased litter size, and an increased incidence of skeletal variations in pregnant rat and rabbit studies. Advise pregnant women of the potential risk to a fetus. Advise females of reproductive potential to use effective contraception during treatment and for at least 3 months after the final dose.



Serious adverse reactions occurred in 3.6% of patients on REBLOZYL. Serious adverse reactions occurring in 1% of patients included cerebrovascular accident and deep vein thrombosis. A fatal adverse reaction occurred in 1 patient treated with REBLOZYL who died due to an unconfirmed case of acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

Most common adverse reactions (at least 10% for REBLOZYL and 1% more than placebo) were headache (26% vs 24%), bone pain (20% vs 8%), arthralgia (19% vs 12%), fatigue (14% vs 13%), cough (14% vs 11%), abdominal pain (14% vs 12%), diarrhea (12% vs 10%) and dizziness (11% vs 5%).

ESA-naïve adult patients with Myelodysplastic Syndromes

Grade ≥3 (≥2%) adverse reactions included hypertension and dyspnea.

The most common (≥10%) all-grade adverse reactions included diarrhea, fatigue, hypertension, peripheral edema, nausea, and dyspnea.

ESA-refractory or -intolerant adult patients with Myelodysplastic Syndromes

Grade ≥3 (≥2%) adverse reactions included fatigue, hypertension, syncope and musculoskeletal pain. A fatal adverse reaction occurred in 5 (2.1%) patients.

The most common (≥10%) adverse reactions included fatigue, musculoskeletal pain, dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, hypersensitivity reactions, hypertension, headache, upper respiratory tract infection, bronchitis, and urinary tract infection.


It is not known whether REBLOZYL is excreted into human milk or absorbed systemically after ingestion by a nursing infant. REBLOZYL was detected in milk of lactating rats. When a drug is present in animal milk, it is likely that the drug will be present in human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk, and because of the unknown effects of REBLOZYL in infants, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or to discontinue treatment. Because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in the breastfed child, breastfeeding is not recommended during treatment and for 3 months after the last dose.


Abuse: Abuse of REBLOZYL may be seen in athletes for the effects on erythropoiesis. Misuse of drugs that increase erythropoiesis, such as REBLOZYL, by healthy persons may lead to polycythemia, which may be associated with life-threatening cardiovascular complications.

Please see accompanying U.S. Full Prescribing Information for REBLOZYL.

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 understanding of causal human biology, cutting-edge capabilities and differentiated research platforms uniquely position the company to approach 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. As a leader in cancer care, Bristol Myers Squibb is working to empower all people with cancer to have a better future.

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

Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 regarding, among other things, the research, development and commercialization of pharmaceutical products. All statements that are not statements of historical facts are, or may be deemed to be, forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements are based on current expectations and projections about our future financial results, goals, plans and objectives and involve inherent risks, assumptions and uncertainties, including internal or external factors that could delay, divert or change any of them in the next several years, that are difficult to predict, may be beyond our control and could cause our future financial results, goals, plans and objectives to differ materially from those expressed in, or implied by, the statements. These risks, assumptions, uncertainties and other factors include, among others, that future study results may not be consistent with the results to date, that the product candidate described in this release may not receive regulatory approval for the indications described in this release, that any marketing approvals, if granted, may have significant limitations on their use, and, if approved, whether such product candidate for such indications will be commercially successful. No forward-looking statement can be guaranteed. Forward-looking statements in this press release should be evaluated together with the many risks and uncertainties that affect Bristol Myers Squibb’s business and market, particularly those identified in the cautionary statement and risk factors discussion in Bristol Myers Squibb’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2022, as updated by our subsequent Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The forward-looking statements included in this document are made only as of the date of this document and except as otherwise required by applicable law, Bristol Myers Squibb undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events, changed circumstances or otherwise.


$BMY to present results at #ASH23 from a Phase 3 study evaluating its #anemia therapy as a first-line treatment for patients with very low- to intermediate-risk #MDS who may require red blood cell transfusions.


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