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Genentech Provides Update on Venclexta Multiple Myeloma Program

Based on a recently unblinded clinical study investigating Venclexta® (venetoclax) in people with multiple myeloma (MM), and in agreement with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), all clinical trials investigating Venclexta in multiple myeloma are currently subject to a partial clinical hold.

Patient safety is of the highest importance for Genentech and study investigators and healthcare professionals have been informed. Continued close collaboration with the FDA and other health authorities is underway to determine appropriate next steps. Patients already on the studies who are receiving clinical benefit may continue on treatment, after confirming their consent to do so. However, no new patients will be enrolled.

The partial clinical hold follows safety findings observed in the BELLINI study (M14-031), which is evaluating the efficacy and safety of Venclexta plus bortezomib and dexamethasone compared to bortezomib plus dexamethasone in people with relapsed or refractory MM. An increased rate of deaths was observed in the Venclexta arm of the BELLINI study. While no clear cause has been established yet, the FDA issued the partial clinical hold.

Results from the BELLINI study and the partial clinical hold on the MM studies do not impact the currently approved indications or other ongoing studies for Venclexta. Venclexta continues to demonstrate benefits across multiple types of blood cancer, including chronic lymphocytic leukemia and acute myeloid leukemia.

We are continuing to evaluate data from the study to better understand the benefit-risk profile of Venclexta in people with MM. It is estimated that more than 32,000 cases of MM are diagnosed in the United States each year and despite treatment advances, relapse and resistance are common and new options are needed.

Venclexta is being developed by AbbVie and Genentech, a member of the Roche Group. It is jointly commercialized by the companies in the U.S. and commercialized by AbbVie outside of the U.S.

Venclexta Indications 

Venclexta is a prescription medicine used:

  • To treat adults with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) or small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL), with or without 17p deletion, who have received at least 1 prior treatment.
  • In combination with azacitidine, or decitabine, or low-dose cytarabine to treat adults with newly-diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia (AML) who:

‒ Are 75 years of age or older, or

‒ Have other medical conditions that prevent the use of standard chemotherapy.

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. The patient’s doctor will do tests to check their risk of getting TLS before they start taking Venclexta. The patient will receive other medicines before starting and during treatment with Venclexta to help reduce the risk of TLS. The patient may also need to receive intravenous (IV) fluids through their vein.

The patient’s doctor will do blood tests to check for TLS when the patient first starts treatment and during treatment with Venclexta. It is important for patients to keep appointments for blood tests. Patients 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 or joint pain.

Patients should drink plenty of water during treatment with 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 the first dose, on the day of the first dose of Venclexta, and each time a dose is increased.

The patient’s doctor may delay, decrease the dose, or stop treatment with Venclexta if the patient has side effects.

Certain medicines must not be taken when the patient first starts taking Venclexta and while the dose is being slowly increased because of the risk of increased tumor lysis syndrome. 

  • Patients must 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 must not start new medicines during treatment with Venclexta without first talking with their doctor.

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

  • Have kidney problems.
  • Have problems with body salts or electrolytes, such as potassium, phosphorus, or calcium.
  • Have a history of high uric acid levels in the blood or gout.
  • Are scheduled to receive a vaccine. The patient should not receive a “live vaccine” before, during, or after treatment with Venclexta, until the patient’s doctor tells them it is okay. If the patient is not sure about the type of immunization or vaccine, the patient 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 the patient is able to become pregnant, the patient’s doctor should do a pregnancy test before the patient starts treatment with Venclexta, and the patient should use effective birth control during treatment and for at least 30 days after the last dose of Venclexta. If the patient becomes pregnant or thinks they are pregnant, the patient should tell their doctor right away.
  • Are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if Venclexta passes into the patient’s breast milk. Patients should not breastfeed during treatment with Venclexta.

What to avoid while taking Venclexta:

Patients should not drink grapefruit juice, 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 counts (neutropenia). Low white blood cell counts are common with Venclexta, but can also be severe. The patient’s doctor will do blood tests to check their blood counts during treatment with Venclexta. Patients should tell their doctor right away if they have a fever or any signs of an infection during treatment with Venclexta.

The most common side effects of Venclexta when used in combination with rituximab in people with CLL include  low white blood cell counts; diarrhea; upper respiratory tract infection; cough; tiredness; and nausea.

The most common side effects of Venclexta when used alone in people with CLL/SLL include  low white blood cell counts; diarrhea; nausea; upper respiratory tract infection; low red blood cell counts; tiredness; low platelet counts; muscle and joint pain; swelling of arms, legs, hands, and feet; and cough.

The most common side effects of Venclexta in combination with azacitidine, or decitabine, or low-dose cytarabine in people with AML include  low white blood cell counts; nausea; diarrhea; low platelet counts; constipation; fever with low white blood cell counts; low red blood cell counts; infection in blood; rash; dizziness; low blood pressure; fever; swelling of arms, legs, hands, and feet; vomiting; tiredness; shortness of breath; bleeding; infection in lung; stomach (abdominal) pain; pain in muscles or back; cough; and sore throat. 

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 about any side effect that bothers them or that does not go away.

Report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or http://www.fda.gov/medwatch. Report side effects to Genentech at 1-888-835-2555.

Please visit http://www.Venclexta.com for the Venclexta full Prescribing Information, including Patient Information, for additional Important Safety Information. 


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 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.