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Bristol's CEO optimistic of Opdivo's results

Some patients advocates and physicians have shown a lot of excitement for Opdivo's results, said Bristol-Myers Squibb CEO Giovanni Caforio.

Bristol-Myers' stock was up 3.33 percent to $66.76 during midday trading hours on Monday, after a sharp drop on Friday following the announcement of the trial results of Opdivo.

The results showed that Opdivo, which is used to treat lung cancer, wasn't effective for all levels of the condition.

"We are very focused on ensuring that our patients have access to our medicines," said Caforio during his first interview as CEO with CNBC. "They prolong survival. Just think about four years ago. There was really no hope for patients with melanoma."

"It really positions Opdivo as a foundational drug in lung cancer, melanoma, and the data is really exciting. We've shown that in some patients with non-squamous lung cancer, which is the most common form of the disease, Opdivo doubles survival. That's unprecedented data."

Giovanni Caforio, CEO of Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Jodi Gralnick | CNBC
Giovanni Caforio, CEO of Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Caforio added that the company will continue to investigate the role of biomarkers. A biomarker is defined as "any substance, structure or process that can be measured in the body or its products and influence or predict the incidence of outcome or disease" by a venture of the World Health Organization.

Caforio also said that the company is entering a period of sustained growth.

"Business development is really very important to our strategy," Caforio said. "It will continue to be. We actually have a really integrated approach to innovation with internal R&D complemented by business development."

Caforio said that when looking at biotech pricing, it was important to take into account the very rapid progress.

"We look at strategic fit, the strength of the science, and obviously it must make sense financially," said Caforio.

CORRECTION: Bristol-Myers Squibb CEO Giovanni Caforio says patients with melanoma faced much worse odds even four years ago. The timeline in his quote was misstated in an earlier version of this article.