FDA approves combination of Venclexta and Rituxan for lymphocytic leukemia treatment

Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Venclexta® (venetoclax) in combination with Rituxan® (rituximab) for the treatment of people with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) or small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL), with or without 17p deletion, who have received at least one prior therapy. Venclexta is being developed by AbbVie and Genentech, a member of the Roche Group. It is jointly commercialized by the companies in the United States and commercialized by AbbVie outside of the United States.

"We are pleased that this approval makes Venclexta, a first of its kind targeted therapy, available for more people with chronic lymphocytic leukemia whose disease has returned after previous treatment," said Sandra Horning, M.D., chief medical officer and head of Global Product Development. "Venclexta plus Rituxan provides a new chemotherapy-free option shown to help people live longer without their disease progressing compared to a standard-of-care therapy."

The approval of Venclexta plus Rituxan for people with previously treated CLL is primarily based on the results of the Phase III MURANO study, which were published online in the New England Journal of Medicine in March 2018 and presented at the American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting in December 2017. The results showed that a fixed duration of treatment with Venclexta plus Rituxan significantly reduced the risk of disease progression or death (progression-free survival; PFS) by 81 percent compared with bendamustine plus Rituxan, a current standard of care (HR=0.19; 95 percent CI 0.13-0.28; p<0.0001).

The most common side effects of Venclexta in combination with Rituxan include low white blood cell count, diarrhea, upper respiratory tract infection, cough, fatigue and nausea.

Today's FDA approval converts Venclexta's accelerated approval to a full approval. The FDA has also updated the indication for Venclexta as a single agent, which is now approved for the treatment of people with CLL or SLL, with or without 17p deletion, who have received at least one prior therapy. Venclexta was previously granted accelerated approval in April 2016 as a single agent for the treatment of people with CLL with 17p deletion, as detected by an FDA approved test, who have received at least one prior therapy.

The supplemental New Drug Application (sNDA) based on the MURANO data was granted Priority Review, a designation given to medicines that the FDA has determined to have the potential to provide significant improvements in the treatment, prevention or diagnosis of a disease. The FDA also previously granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation for Venclexta in combination with Rituxan for the treatment of relapsed or refractory CLL. Venclexta in combination with Rituxan is recommended in the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines as a treatment option for previously treated CLL (Category 1, Preferred).

An application for a variation of the marketing authorization based on the MURANO data has also been submitted to and validated by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Additional submissions of the MURANO data to health authorities around the world are ongoing.

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