Monday, Sep 18, 2017

Phase III Data Showed That Venclexta Plus Rituxan Helped People With Previously Treated Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Live Longer Without Their Disease Worsening Compared to Bendamustine Plus Rituxan

Data from pivotal Phase III study will be submitted to health authorities and presented at an upcoming medical meeting

South San Francisco, CA -- September 18, 2017 --

Genentech, a member of the Roche Group (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY), announced today that the Phase III MURANO study, which evaluated Venclexta (venetoclax) in combination with Rituxan® (rituximab) in people with relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), met its primary endpoint and showed a statistically significant improvement in the time people lived without their disease progressing (progression-free survival [PFS] as assessed by investigator) when treated with Venclexta plus Rituxan compared to bendamustine plus Rituxan. No new safety signals or increase in known toxicities of Venclexta were observed with the treatment combination of Venclexta plus Rituxan. 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.

“Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is considered incurable and becomes harder to treat with each relapse,” said Sandra Horning, M.D., chief medical officer and head of Global Product Development. “This is the first study to show that Venclexta plus Rituxan can help people with this type of leukemia live significantly longer without their disease worsening compared to a standard-of-care regimen. We will work with health authorities to bring this potential chemotherapy-free treatment option to the people who need it as quickly as possible.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation for Venclexta in combination with Rituxan for the treatment of relapsed or refractory CLL based on promising results from the Phase Ib M13-365 study. Breakthrough Therapy Designation is intended to expedite the development and review of medicines with early evidence of potential clinical benefit in serious or life-threatening diseases and to help ensure that patients receive access to medicines as soon as possible.

Venclexta was granted accelerated approval by the FDA in April 2016 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 MURANO study is part of the company’s commitment in the United States to convert the current accelerated approval of Venclexta to a full approval. Data from the MURANO study will be presented at an upcoming medical meeting and submitted to global health authorities.

About the MURANO study

MURANO (NCT02005471) is a Phase III open-label, international, multicenter, randomized study evaluating the efficacy and safety of Venclexta in combination with Rituxan compared with bendamustine in combination with Rituxan. All treatments were of fixed duration. The study included 389 patients with relapsed or refractory CLL who had been previously treated with at least one but not more than three lines of therapy. Patients were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to receive either Venclexta plus Rituxan (Arm A) or bendamustine plus Rituxan (Arm B). The primary endpoint of the study is investigator-assessed PFS. Secondary endpoints include PFS assessed by independent review committee (IRC), best overall response, complete response, duration of response, overall survival, event-free survival, time to next CLL treatment and minimal residual disease (MRD) status.

About Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)

CLL is the most common type of adult leukemia, and in 2017, it is estimated there will be more than 20,000 new cases of CLL diagnosed in the United States. Although signs of CLL may disappear for a period of time after initial treatment, the disease is considered incurable and many people will require additional treatment due to the return of cancerous cells.

About Venclexta

Venclexta is a small molecule designed to selectively bind and inhibit the BCL-2 protein, which plays an important role in a process called apoptosis (programmed cell death). Overexpression of the BCL-2 protein in CLL has been associated with resistance to certain therapies. It is believed that blocking BCL-2 may restore the signaling system that tells cells, including cancer cells, to self-destruct. 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.

Together, the companies are committed to further research with Venclexta, which is currently being evaluated in Phase III clinical trials for the treatment of CLL, along with studies in several other types of cancers. In the United States, Venclexta has been granted four breakthrough therapy designations by the FDA: in combination with Rituxan for people with relapsed or refractory CLL; as a monotherapy for people with relapsed or refractory CLL with 17p deletion; in combination with hypomethylating agents (azacitidine or decitabine) for people with untreated acute myeloid leukemia (AML) ineligible for intensive chemotherapy; and in combination with low-dose cytarabine (LDAC) for people with untreated AML ineligible for intensive chemotherapy.

Venclexta Indication

Venclexta (venetoclax) is a prescription medicine used to treat people with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) with 17p deletion who have received at least one prior treatment.

Venclexta was approved based on response rate. There is an ongoing study to find out how Venclexta works over a longer period of time.

It is not known if Venclexta is safe and effective in children.

Important Safety Information

Patients must tell their doctor right away about any side effects they experience.

Venclexta can cause serious side effects, including tumor lysis syndrome (TLS). TLS is caused by the fast breakdown of cancer cells. TLS can cause kidney failure, the need for dialysis treatment, and may lead to death. A patient’s doctor will do tests for TLS. It is important for patients taking Venclexta to keep their appointments for blood tests. Patients will receive other medicines before starting and during treatment with Venclexta to help reduce their risk of TLS. Patients may also need to receive intravenous (IV) fluids into their vein. Patients taking Venclexta should tell their doctor right away if they have any symptoms of TLS during treatment with Venclexta, including fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, confusion, shortness of breath, seizures, irregular heartbeat, dark or cloudy urine, unusual tiredness or muscle pain or joint pain.

Patients should drink plenty of water when taking Venclexta to help reduce the risk of getting TLS. Patients should drink 6 to 8 glasses (about 56 ounces total) of water each day, starting 2 days before their first dose, on the day of their first dose of

Venclexta, and each time the dose is increased.

Certain medicines must not be taken when patients first start taking Venclexta and while their dose is being slowly increased.

  • Patients should tell their doctor about all the medicines they take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Venclexta and other medicines may affect each other, causing serious side effects.
  • Patients should not start new medicines during treatment with Venclexta without first talking with their doctor.

Before taking Venclexta, patients should tell their doctor about all of their medical conditions, including if they:

  • Have any kidney or liver problems.
  • Have problems with their body salts or electrolytes, such as potassium, phosphorus, or calcium.
  • Have a history of high uric acid levels in their blood or gout.
  • Are scheduled to receive a vaccine. Patients should not receive a “live vaccine” before, during, or after treatment with Venclexta, until their doctor tells them it is okay. If a patient is unsure about the type of immunization or vaccine, they should ask their doctor. These vaccines may not be safe or may not work as well during treatment with Venclexta.
  • Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Venclexta may harm an unborn baby. If a patient is able to become pregnant, the doctor should do a pregnancy test before they start treatment with Venclexta, and they should use effective birth control during treatment and for 30 days after the last dose of Venclexta.
  • Are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if Venclexta passes into breast milk. Patients should not breastfeed during treatment with Venclexta.

Patients taking Venclexta should not drink grapefruit juice or eat grapefruit, Seville oranges (often used in marmalades), or starfruit while they are taking Venclexta. These products may increase the amount of Venclexta in the patient’s blood.

Venclexta can cause serious side effects, including:

  • Low White Blood Cell Count (neutropenia): Low white blood cell counts are common with Venclexta, but can also be severe. A doctor will do blood tests to check a patient’s blood counts during treatment with Venclexta. Patients should tell their doctor right away if they have a fever or any signs of an infection.

The most common side effects of Venclexta include low white blood cell count, diarrhea, nausea, low red blood cell count, upper respiratory tract infection, low platelet count, and feeling tired.

Venclexta may cause fertility problems in males. This may affect the ability to father a child. Patients should talk to their doctor if they have concerns about fertility.

These are not all the possible side effects of Venclexta. Patients should tell their doctor if they have any side effect that bothers them or that does not go away.

Report side effects to the FDA at (800) FDA-1088 or Patients and caregivers may also report side effects to Genentech at (888) 835-2555.

Please visit for the Venclexta full Prescribing Information, including Patient Information, for additional Important Safety Information.

About Genentech In Hematology

For more than 20 years, Genentech has been developing medicines with the goal to redefine treatment in hematology. Today, we’re investing more than ever in our effort to bring innovative treatment options to people with diseases of the blood. In addition to approved medicines, Genentech’s pipeline of investigational hematology medicines includes an anti-CD79b antibody drug conjugate (polatuzumab vedotin/RG7596) and a small molecule antagonist of MDM2 (idasanutlin/RG7388). Genentech’s dedication to developing novel medicines for blood diseases expands beyond oncology, with the development of the investigational hemophilia A treatment emicizumab. For more information visit

About Genentech

Founded more than 40 years ago, Genentech is a leading biotechnology company that discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines to treat patients with serious or life-threatening medical conditions. The company, a member of the Roche Group, has headquarters in South San Francisco, California. For additional information about the company, please visit