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Sales of a cancer immunotherapy made by Bristol-Myers Squibb are holding up even after the medicine failed a clinical trial, helping the drugmaker beat forecasts for first quarter sales and earnings.

The drug, Opdivo, generated $1.12bn of revenues in the first three months of the year, compared to the market’s consensus forecast of $1bn.

Some investors had expected sales of Opdivo to stall, after the medicine last year flunked a large clinical study, which showed it was less effective than traditional chemotherapy at slowing the progression of lung cancer.

Bristol-Myers posted adjusted earnings of 84 cents per share for the first quarter on revenues of $4.9bn, topping analysts’ estimate of 73 cents per share on sales of $4.7bn.

Shares in the company, which have fallen by 24 per cent over the past twelve months, added 2.3 per cent in pre-market trading.

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