Friday, Jun 8, 2018
Approval based on Phase III MURANO study showing Venclexta plus Rituxan reduced risk of disease progression or death by 81 percent compared to bendamustine plus Rituxan
South San Francisco, CA -- June 8, 2018 --
Genentech, a member of the Roche Group (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY), 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.
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 to bendamustine in combination with Rituxan (BR). All treatments were of fixed duration. Following a five-week dose ramp-up schedule for Venclexta, patients on the Venclexta plus Rituxan arm received six cycles of Venclexta plus Rituxan followed by Venclexta monotherapy for up to two years total. Patients on the BR arm received six cycles of BR. The study included 389 patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) who had been previously treated with at least one line of therapy. Patients were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to receive either Venclexta plus Rituxan or BR. The primary endpoint of the study was progression-free survival (PFS). Secondary endpoints included overall survival (OS), overall response rate (ORR) and complete response rate (with or without complete blood count recovery, CR/CRi).
MURANO Study Results a
Venclexta + Rituxan
PFS (primary endpoint)
Not reached (NR)
Number of events
0.19 (95% CI 0.13-0.28), p<0.0001
Best Response Rates (secondary endpoints)
a Data at median follow-up of 23.4 months
At the time of analysis, median overall survival had not been reached in either arm after a median follow-up of 22.9 months.
Common Grade 3 or higher adverse reactions occurring at least 2 percent more frequently in patients treated with Venclexta plus Rituxan vs. BR, respectively, were low white blood cell count (neutropenia, 62% vs. 44%), diarrhea (3% vs. 1%), and tumor lysis syndrome (3% vs. 1%).
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is the most common type of adult leukemia, and in 2018, 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.
In CLL, the cancer primarily occurs in the blood and bone marrow. Small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL) is similar to CLL, but primarily occurs in the lymph nodes.
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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 is a prescription medicine used to treat people with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) or small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL), with or without 17p deletion, who have received at least one prior treatment.
It is not known if Venclexta is safe and effective in children.
Important Safety Information:
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 the risk of TLS. Patients may also need to receive intravenous (IV) fluids into their vein. Patients taking Venclexta must 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 or joint pain.
Patients should drink plenty of water when taking Venclexta
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 because of the risk of increased tumor lysis syndrome.
Before taking Venclexta, patients must tell their doctor about all of their medical conditions, including if they:
Patients 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:
The most common side effects of Venclexta when used in combination with rituximab include low white blood cell count, diarrhea, upper respiratory tract infection, cough, tiredness, and nausea.
The most common side effects of Venclexta when used alone include low white blood cell count, diarrhea, nausea, upper respiratory tract infection, low red blood cell count, tiredness, low platelet count, muscle and joint pain, swelling of the arms, legs, hands, and feet, and cough.
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 must 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 http://www.fda.gov/medwatch. Patients and caregivers may also report side effects to Genentech at (888) 835-2555.
Please visit http://www.Venclexta.com for the Venclexta full Prescribing Information, including Patient Information, for additional Important Safety Information.
Rituxan® (rituximab) injection, for intravenous use, is indicated for the treatment of patients with:
Important Safety Information:
Rituxan can cause serious side effects that can lead to death, including:
Patients must tell their doctor or get medical help right away about any of these symptoms during or after an infusion of Rituxan:
Patients must tell their doctor right away about worsening tiredness, or yellowing of the skin or white part of the eyes during treatment with Rituxan.
Patients must tell their doctor right away about new or worsening symptoms or if anyone close to the patient notices these symptoms:
What should patients tell their doctor before receiving Rituxan?
Before receiving Rituxan, patients should tell their doctor if they:
What are the possible side effects of Rituxan?
Rituxan can cause serious side effects, including:
TLS can happen within 12 to 24 hours after an infusion of Rituxan. The patient’s doctor may do blood tests to check for TLS. The patient’s doctor may give medicine to help prevent TLS. Patients must tell their doctor right away if they have any of the following signs or symptoms of TLS:
The patient’s doctor will stop treatment with Rituxan if they have severe, serious, or life-threatening side effects.
What are the most common side effects during treatment with Rituxan?
Other side effects include:
These are not all of the possible side effects with Rituxan.
Please see the Rituxan full Prescribing Information, including the Medication Guide, for additional Important Safety Information at http://www.Rituxan.com.
Report side effects to the FDA at (800) FDA-1088 or http://www.fda.gov/medwatch. Report side effects to Genentech at (888) 835-2555.
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. For more information visit http://www.gene.com/hematology.
Founded more than 40 years ago, Genentech is a leading biotechnology company that discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines to treat patients with serious and 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 http://www.gene.com.