The OBR Blog

By Lynne Lederman, PhD

As the 2018 American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting continues, we focus on two studies that have the potential to be practice-changing for the treatment of older patients with AML and younger patients with favorable-prognosis diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), the development of a personalized risk stratification model for patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), and the finding that pre-hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT) microbiota injury is associated with poorer overall survival (OS).

Initial Report of the Beat AML Umbrella Study for Previously Untreated AML: Evidence of Feasibility and Early Success in Molecularly Driven Phase 1 and 2 Studies (559)

Results from the Beat AML umbrella study demonstrated that it was feasible to implement a rapid treatment assignment within 7 days or less for 95.8% of elderly patients with AML, reported Amy Burd, PhD, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

This precision medicine trial tested the hypothesis that outcomes for patients could be improved by matching them to the increasing number of available targeted therapies. The primary objectives were to determine (1) the feasibility of completing molecular, immunophenotypic, and/or biochemical studies in ≤7 calendar days, (2) the feasibility of assigning patients to sub-studies in the master protocol based on the test results, and (3) the clinical efficacy of novel treatment strategies in each of the sub-studies.

The trial enrolled patients age ≥60 years with previously untreated AML. Treatment was assigned based on the best curative option using molecular profiling results. Median age was 72 years, and 37.9% of patients were age ≥75 years.

So far 365 patients have been enrolled, of whom 285 were assigned treatment; 146 patients received the assigned treatment. Most of the patients who were not treated received other therapies, including standard of care, alternative treatment prior to assignment, or enrollment in an alternative trial after assignment; 7 died during the 7-day period, and 23 opted to enter palliative care.

The trial began with 3 sub-studies, which has since increased to 11 sub-studies, providing more options. Promising efficacy has been seen in several treatment arms, and early death and disease progression prior to treatment assignment is uncommon outside of MLL rearranged AML which progresses rapidly and requires early treatment initiation. Two sub-study updates are being presented at the meeting (abstracts 4053 and 287).

Excellent Outcome of Young Patients (18-60 years) with Favourable-Prognosis Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL) Treated with 4 Cycles CHOP Plus 6 Applications of Rituximab: Results of the 592 Patients of the Flyer Trial of the Dshnhl/GLA (781)

Results of the FLYER trial showed that reducing cycles of CHOP-like chemotherapy from the standard 6 cycles of rituximab (R)-CHOP to 4 cycles of CHOP plus 6 doses of R maintained efficacy and reduced toxicity for younger patients with good prognosis DLBCL.

Viola Poeschel, MD, Department of Hematology, Oncology and Rheumatology, Saarland University Medical School, Homburg/Saar, Germany, presented the results. FLYER enrolled previously untreated patients age 18 to 60 years with stage I/II aggressive B-cell lymphoma, with age-adjusted International Prognostic Index of zero and no bulky disease. Patients were randomly assigned to treatment with 6 cycles or R-CHOP or 4 cycles R-CHOP plus 2 additional cycles of R in 21-day cycles.

The primary endpoint was progression-free survival (PFS). The 36 month PFS was 94% (95% CI 91%-97%) for the 6 x R-CHOP-21 group (n=295), and 96% (95% CI 94%-99%) for the 4 x R-CHOP-21 + 2 x R group (n=293) at a median follow-up of 66 months.

Likewise, the 36-month overall survival (OS) was similar between the treatment groups: 98% (95% CI 96%-99%) in the standard therapy group and 99% (95% CI 98%-100%) in the reduced chemotherapy group at a median follow-up of 67 months.

Fewer hematologic adverse events (AE) were reported in the reduced chemotherapy group, as well as an overall reduction of non-hematologic AEs by approximately one third.

A Personalized Prediction Model to Risk Stratify Patients with Myelodysplastic Syndromes (793)

Current treatment guidelines for MDS are based on risk stratification for progression to AML, and although HCT is potentially curative in high-risk disease, associated toxicities make it inappropriate for low-risk disease. Aziz Nazha, MD, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH, described the development of a prediction model that uses a machine learning approach to provide a personalized, patient-specific estimate of risk.

Dr. Nazha’s group show that when looking at survival of patients with MDS by Revised International Prognostic Scoring System (IPSS-R) for MDS risk category, outcomes are heterogeneous.

The model was developed using clinical and mutational data from patients with MDS in a combined cohort from the Cleveland Clinic and Munich Leukemia Laboratory (training cohort, n=1471) and validated in a separate cohort (validation cohort, n=831) from the Moffitt Cancer Center. Forty gene mutations commonly occurring in myeloid malignancies were sequenced. Patients undergoing HCT were censored at the time of transplant. An algorithm was used to build the model that randomly selected clinical and molecular variables to determine survival. Variables were ranked from the most to the least important for OS.

A clinic-friendly web application tool has been built from the final model, allowing input of important risk factors to calculate predicted OS for individual patients. Dr. Nazha said that this new model has a better predictability index for OS and leukemia-free survival than the IPSS.

Multicenter Microbiota Analysis Indicates that Pre-HCT Microbiota Injury Is Prevalent across Geography and Predicts Poor Overall Survival (811)

The intestinal microbiota composition is associated with important outcomes after allogeneic (allo) HCT including OS, organ toxicity, relapse, graft-versus-host disease (GvHD), and infection. Most studies have looked at the microbiota after transplantation. Jonathan U. Peled, MD, PhD, Adult Bone Marrow Transplant Service, Department of Medicine, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, described this study looking at the intestinal microbiota composition in 1922 stool samples from patients both before and after allo-HCT in three geographic regions.

Dr. Peled said it was striking that no matter where in the world these patients lived, their intestinal microbiota composition and diversity were comparable at baseline. Higher diversity pre-HCT microbiota is associated with better OS than low diversity (HR 0.69; P=.002), as well as with peri-neutrophil engraftment. After transplant, a decrease in diversity and domination of single species are correlated with poorer outcomes.

Approaches that could manipulate microbiota-host interactions to prevent damage include antibiotics, prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics.

 

January 06, 2017 - 11:01 pm Posted in ASH Conference Coverage Posted in Lymphoma (includes NHL, HL, CNS Lymphoma) comments0 Comments

Introduction

In an effort to provide you with timely market feedback from the 58th ASH Annual Meeting held in December 2016, OBR and MDoutlook® are pleased to share results from MDoutlook’s OncoPolls™ conducted last month immediately after the meeting. This report explores the choice between Rituxan® and Gazyva® in the front line setting for follicular lymphoma (FL) and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) and the use of Rituxan and Revlimid® in the maintenance setting for mantle cell and CLL, respectively.

OncoPoll™ Methodology

  • Primary research phase involved a survey to verified and validated US hematological and medical oncologists with an identified clinical interest in B-cell lymphomas utilizing targeting parameters within the proprietary MDoutlook global cancer treater panel
  • Timing: December 2016. Launched 9 days after close of 2016 American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting, held in San Diego, CA, December 3-6, 2016
  • Fielding to proprietary panel of cancer treaters, targeted by clinical interest
  • Data capture via interactive web-based survey instrument, utilizing proven MDoutlook methodology and proprietary technology
  • Links to discussed abstracts on the ASH website were provided within the survey
  • Reponses at data collection: 100

Institutional Setting by Attendance of Respondents

oncopoll_nhl_attendance

Use of anti-CD20 mAbs in the Front Line for Different B-cell Lymphomas

Awareness of Abstracts #6 & #470

oncopoll_nhl_awareness

 General Clinical Importance of Different anti-CD20 mAbs in FL & DLBCL

oncopoll_nhl_importance

Expected Impact on anti-CD20 Usage in FL & DLBCL

 oncopoll_nhl_impact

Key Conclusions

  • On a 0 – 5 scale of 0 = no awareness to 5 = very aware, clinicians have only an average / slightly below average awareness of these presentations
    • A general higher level of awareness is seen by those who attended ASH (nearly a full rating point higher for each abstract)
    • The average level awareness about the FL abstract is somewhat lacking considering it was presented in the Plenary Session
  • Clinical impact of these presentations, rated on a 1 – 5 scale of 1 = not at all important to 5 = very important, is seen as being very clinically meaningful
    • US oncologists assign a high importance (>4) to the FL presentation (Abstract #6), regardless of meeting attendance
    • Abstract #470 (concerning DLBCL) is seen as somewhat less important, especially by those who did not attend the meeting
  • Expected impact on anti-CD20 mAb usage in their practice was also measured. A 14-22% absolute growth in usage of Gazyva is predicted in the near future, all at the expense of Rituxan usage. No real changes noted in patients not treated with anti-CD20 antibodies or with other anti-CD20 antibodies (not shown). With greater impact seen with non-attendees, this shows the importance of the information itself, compared to the need to be present at the meeting for changing practices.

Use of Maintenance Strategies for Mantle Cell Lymphoma and CLL

Awareness of Abstracts #145, #229 & #230

oncopoll_nhl_maintenance-mcl-cll

General Clinical Importance of Maintenance Strategies for Mantle Cell Lymphoma and CLL

oncopoll_nhl_importance-mcl-cll

Expected Impact on Maintenance Usage in Mantle Cell Lymphoma and CLL

oncopoll_nhl_impact-mcl-cll

Key Conclusions

  • On the same 0 – 5 scale, attendees of the ASH meeting have an average level awareness about these maintenance presentations, while awareness by non-attendees is low
    • No meaningful differences in awareness among these three abstracts
  • Upon providing these abstracts for review, US oncologists recognize the clinical importance of this information and plan on incorporating these maintenance strategies into their clinical practices immediately
    • Meeting attendance does not really impact these findings. In fact, non-attendees may be more likely to use these approaches in their practices

Conclusions: Immediate Impact of 2016 ASH Presentations on Clinical Practice for B-cell Lymphomas

  • All of these studies highlight the importance of the ASH Annual Meeting to the entire hematologic oncology community – awareness of these presentations are high and can occur quite quickly even for those who did not attend the meeting. Alternative methods to disseminate new clinical information are very important to improving clinical practices and patient outcomes
  • The information in these presentations will be integrated into clinical practice in relatively short order, especially since most of these agents are already widely available and in use

For a more detailed analysis report, please click here to download the full report.

Submitted by Dr Robert Stephan, VP, Research and Physician Society, and Dr Jan Heybroek, President MDoutlook.

December 07, 2016 - 04:12 pm Posted in ASH Conference Coverage Posted in Lymphoma (includes NHL, HL, CNS Lymphoma) comments0 Comments

By: Greg Wolfe, Ph.D., Senior Consultant, Clinical & Scientific Assessment, Kantar Health and Jay Grisolano, Ph.D., Senior Director, Clinical & Scientific Assessment, Kantar Health

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Immunotherapies such as checkpoint inhibitors have had a dramatic impact on treatment paradigms for many tumor types over the past few years, and their full potential is far from being realized. Hot on the heels of checkpoint inhibitors are engineered, adoptive T-cell therapies that represent another promising advancement. These “living drugs” certainly have the potential to lead to yet another paradigm shift in anticancer therapies. Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) technology, one type of adoptive T-cell therapy, took center stage yesterday at the 2016 American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting.

With the CAR T-cell approach, T-cells (typically patient-derived) are transduced with an engineered receptor that typically comprises an extracellular domain that recognizes a specific epitope on cancer cells (typically from a B-cell-derived monoclonal antibody), coupled with the intracellular CD3ζ  domain derived from the T-cell receptor and one or more co-stimulatory signaling domains. Patients receive “preparative chemotherapy” to achieve lymphodepletion and/or myeloablation to minimize regulatory T-cells and myeloid-derived suppressor cells that inhibit immune-mediated attack, and then genetically modified T-cells that attack cancer cells are infused into the patient.

Kite Pharma is developing KTE-C19 (axicabtagene ciloleucel), an investigational therapy where patients’ T-cells are genetically modified to express a chimeric antigen receptor designed to target the antigen CD19, a protein expressed on the cell surface of B-cell lymphomas and leukemias. The intracellular portion of the KTE-C19 contains the CD3ζ signaling domain in tandem with the co-stimulatory CD28 signaling domain.

Results of the evaluation of KTE-C19 in patients with chemotherapy-refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) from the Phase II portion of the ZUMA-1 trial were presented by Dr. Sattva S. Neelapu yesterday in the Late-Breaking Abstract session of the ASH 2016 annual meeting. The ZUMA-1 trial (NCT02348216) is a single-arm, open-label, multicenter, Phase I/II trial designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of KTE-C19 in refractory aggressive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). Patients with DLBCL, primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma (PMBCL), and transformed follicular lymphoma (TFL) were enrolled in the trial. Safety was the primary endpoint in the Phase I portion of the study, and overall response rate was the primary endpoint of the Phase II portion with secondary endpoints that included duration of response, progression-free survival, and overall survival. Results of the Phase I portion of ZUMA-1 were reported previously1 and demonstrated ongoing complete responses in 43% of treated patients at 12 or more months. The Phase II portion of the study has two cohorts based on tumor type: DLBCL (cohort 1) or PMBCL/TFL (cohort 2). Preliminary results from the first prespecified interim analysis of KTE-C19, which included DLBCL patients (cohort 1), from ZUMA-1 were presented.2

Patients (n=111) were enrolled and leukapheresed to collect T-cells for production of KTE-C19. Patients subsequently received a conditioning regimen of cyclophosphamide (500 mg/m2) and fludarabine (30 mg/m2) x three days. KTE-C19 manufacture was accomplished with an average turnaround time of 17 days, a 99% success rate, and 101 patients each received  a single infusion of KTE-C19 (2 x106 cells/kg).  Patients had a median age of 59 and had received a median of three prior therapies. Of 73 treated DLBCL patients, the best overall response rate (ORR) with a one-month follow-up was 68%, including a complete response (CR) rate of 33%. At a three-month follow-up, the best ORR improved to 76% with a CR rate of 47%, which compares favorably to historical control (p=0.0001), and thus the primary endpoint of the study was achieved. There was a 39% durable CR rate at the three-month assessment. Grade ≥3 adverse events were reported in 93% of DLBCL patients and included cytokine release syndrome in 10 patients (14%) and neurologic events in 18 patients (25%); most of these adverse events were reversible. One KTE-C19-related Grade 5 event was reported in a DLBCL patient.

DLBCL is the most commonly occurring subtype of NHL, with an incidence of 28,449 in 2016 according to Kantar Health’s CancerMPact® Patient Metrics.3 There is a great need for effective treatment options for this patient population as outcomes are quite poor for patients with refractory DLBCL. A recent meta-analysis recently reported an ORR of 26% and median overall survival of 6.6 months based on currently available therapies.4 Efficacy results from the ZUMA-1 study trial far exceed historical controls, like this meta-analysis, and thus ZUMA-1 results generated considerable excitement at ASH 2016. ZUMA-1 is the first multicenter study of anti-CD19 CAR T-cells in refractory, aggressive NHL, and this study demonstrated the successful implementation of management strategies for treatment emergent adverse events associated with this technology. Additional data from ZUMA-1 were presented at ASH 2016 from patients with PMBCL and TFL (cohort 2), and results were equally as encouraging.5

KTE-C19 will likely play an important role in the future treatment of DLBCL and other aggressive NHL subtypes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) awarded KTE-C19 Breakthrough Therapy Designation (BTD) in December 2015. On December 4, 2016, Kite announced that they initiated a rolling submission of a U.S. Biologic License Application (BLA) to the FDA based on the results of ZUMA-1, and completion of the filing is expected by the end of the first quarter of 2017. The BLA is for treatment of relapsed patients with aggressive B-cell NHL who are ineligible for autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT). This submission represents the first BLA filing for a CAR-T therapy. With approval likely, Kite plans to commercially launch KTE-C19 in 2017. Kite also plans a regulatory submission to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for KTE-C19 in 2017. Earlier this year, the EMA granted Kite access to Priority Medicines (PRIME) regulatory support for axicabtagene ciloleucel for the treatment of refractory DLBCL.

Kite is also sponsoring clinical trials to evaluate KTE-C19 in other B-cell malignancies including indolent NHL, mantle cell lymphoma, acute lymphocytic leukemia, and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. In September 2016, Kite, in collaboration with Roche/Genentech, initiated ZUMA-6, a Phase I/II study designed to evaluate safety and efficacy of KTE-C19 administered in combination with atezolizumab for treatment of patients with refractory DLBCL. The future looks bright for this CAR T-cell product.

References:  

  1. Locke FL, et al. Ongoing complete remissions in phase 1 of ZUMA-1: a phase 1-2 multi-center study evaluating the safety and efficacy of KTE-C19 (anti-CD19 CAR T cells) in patients with refractory aggressive B cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Annals Oncol, 27 (suppl. 6):   Abstract 1048O, 2016.
  2. Neelupa SS, et al. KTE-C19 (anti-CD19 CAR T Cells) Induces Complete Remissions in Patients with Refractory Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL): Results from the Pivotal Phase 2 ZUMA-1. LBA 6, American Society of Hematology annual meeting, 2016.
  3. Kantar Health, CancerMPact® Patient Metrics U.S., accessed December, 2016
  4. Crump M, et al. Outcomes in refractory aggressive diffuse large b-cell lymphoma (DLBCL): Results from the international SCHOLAR-1 study. J Clin Oncol 34, 2016 (suppl; abstr 7516).
  5. Locke FL, et al. A Phase 2 Multicenter Trial of KTE-C19 (anti-CD19 CAR T Cells) in Patients With Chemorefractory Primary Mediastinal B-Cell Lymphoma (PMBCL) and Transformed Follicular Lymphoma (TFL):  Interim Results From ZUMA-1. Abstract 998, American Society of Hematology annual meeting, 2016.

December 05, 2016 - 06:12 pm Posted in ASH Conference Coverage Posted in Lymphoma (includes NHL, HL, CNS Lymphoma) comments0 Comments

By: Len Kusdra, Ph.D., Associate Consultant, Clinical & Scientific Assessment, Kantar Health and Jay Grisolano, Ph.D., Senior Director, Clinical & Scientific Assessment, Kantar Health

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In the management of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), Rituxan® (MabThera in Europe, rituximab, Genentech/Roche)-based therapy forms the foundation for therapy in all settings. This holds true for most subtypes of NHL, including follicular lymphoma (FL), mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), and diffuse B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). While Rituxan-based therapy is highly effective and leads to improvement in survival rates, patients are rarely cured, and relapse is common, occurring in about 20-30% of patients.

In addition to this clinical challenge of developing resistance to Rituxan-based regimens, Roche/Genentech also face a commercial challenge as the looming patent expiration for Rituxan approaches and the development of biosimilars threatens to steal Rituxan’s market share. Keeping this in mind, the companies developed an aggressive program with Rituxan’s heir apparent, Gazyva® (Gazyvaro in Europe, obinutuzumab, Roche/Genentech), hoping to maintain their hold in the NHL market. Gazyva is a next-generation CD20 inhibitor designed to be a “biobetter” of Rituxan.

This strategy appeared to have paid off when the Phase III GADOLIN (NCT01059630) trial evaluating Gazyva in combination with Treanda® (bendamustine, Teva/MundiPharma/Symbio) in relapsed patients, presented at the 2015 American Society of Clinical Oncology Conference, showed an improvement in progression-free survival (PFS) when patients were treated with Gazyva plus Treanda followed by Gazyva maintenance.1  Based on these results, Gazyva was subsequently approved in February 2016 for the treatment of FL patients who were refractory to Rituxan-based therapy or had relapsed after Rituxan treatment. The approval propelled Gazyva firmly into the NHL space. (Note that Gazyva is also approved for use in combination with chlorambucil as front-line therapy for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, CLL.) With an approval secured in the relapsed/refractory setting, the question became whether Gazyva would be successful in the front-line setting in patients with FL.

Based on the initial results from the Phase III GALLIUM trial (NCT01332968) presented at the Plenary Session on December 4, 2016, at the American Society of Hematology Conference, the answer appears to be an encouraging “Yes.”2 GALLIUM is an open-label Phase III trial evaluating Gazyva in combination with chemotherapy (CHOP, CVP, or Treanda) followed by Gazyva maintenance versus Rituxan plus chemotherapy followed by Rituxan maintenance. A total of 1,202 patients were randomized to receive Rituxan at 375mg/m2 on day  1 of each cycle or Gazyva at 1000mg on days 1, 8 and 15 of cycle 1 and day 1 of subsequent cycles, for either eight 21-day cycles (for CHOP and CVP) or six 28-day cycles (for Treanda). Patients who achieved a complete or partial response at the end of induction received 1000mg of Gazyva (for patients in the Gazyva induction arm) or 375mg/m2 of Rituxan (for patients in the Rituxan induction arm) IV every two months for two years or until progressive disease. GALLIUM met its primary endpoint of investigator-assessed PFS. With a median follow-up of 34.5 months, patients in the Gazyva arm had a statistically significant lower risk of progression or death (HR=0.66; 95% CI: 0.51-0.85, p=0.0012). Similarly, PFS as assessed by an independent review committee showed a statistically significant improvement with Gazyva (HR=0.71; 95% CI: 0.54-0.93, p=0.014). While there was a trend toward an overall survival (OS) benefit with the Gazyva arm, showing a 94% three-year OS rate compared with 92% for the Rituxan arm, the data are not mature enough to determine whether this improvement is clinically significant (HR=0.75, 90% CI: 0.49-1.17, p=0.210). The response rates were also similar between the Rituxan and the Gazyva arms (88.5% for Gazyva plus chemotherapy and 86.9% for Rituxan plus chemotherapy).

A post-hoc analysis stratified by combination regimen showed equal survival benefit with Gazyva regardless of the chemotherapy backbone (HR for Gazyva plus Treanda versus Rituxan plus Treanda=0.61; HR for Gazyva plus CHOP versus Rituxan plus CHOP=0.77; HR for Gazyva plus CVP versus Rituxan plus CVP=0.63). Discontinuation rates between both arms were similar (16.3% for Gazyva and 14.2% for Rituxan), as well as rates of Grade ≥ 3 adverse events (74.6% for Gazyva and 67.8% for Rituxan). The most common Grade ≥ 3 adverse events in the Gazyva arm were neutropenia (43.9%), leucopenia (8.6%), febrile neutropenia (6.9%), and thrombocytopenia (6.1%), which were slightly higher than the Rituxan arm. The rates of Grade 5 adverse events were also similar between both arms (4.0% in the Gazyva arm versus 3.4% in the Rituxan arm).

Results from GALLIUM put Gazyva in a favorable position for a line extension in the front-line setting. Roche and Genentech’s design to allow for physician’s choice of chemotherapy may have been out of practical necessity but will ultimately strengthen Gazyva’s utilization. According to physicians surveyed in the United States, CHOP, CVP, and Treanda are the most common partners used in combination with Rituxan, being utilized in over 80% of patients.3 The clinical benefit seen with Gazyva over Rituxan places it in a strong position to absorb a significant market share that Rituxan currently holds not only in the front-line setting but also in the relapsed setting, thus paving the way for a Gazyva-based therapy to replace Rituxan as standard of care in the future. Collectively, these data may thus provide impetus to use Gazyva upfront, with physicians switching the chemotherapy regimen but maintaining Gazyva as backbone following first relapse.

Despite its strong position, Gazyva faces stiff competition. While GALLIUM showed a PFS benefit of Gazyva over Rituxan, the lack of mature OS data may make physicians reluctant to switch to Gazyva, particularly as Rituxan nears the end of its patent lifespan. This may give time to allow entry of potentially lower-cost rituximab biosimilars to corner a share of the market. Indeed, biosimilars of several other branded products have already begun to make entry into the United States with the recent approvals of Zarxio® (filgrastim-sndz, Sandoz), Inflectra® (infliximab-dyyb, Pfizer), Erelzi (enterecept-szzs, Sandoz), and Amjevita (adalimumab-atto, Amgen), and while oncology biosimilars have yet to make landfall in the United States, this may change in the near future as physicians become familiar with these agents.

Highlighting the growing threat that biosimilars pose to branded agents, Sandoz announced earlier this year that the European Medicines Agency accepted a Marketing Authorization Application for a biosimilar to Roche’s Rituxan/MabThera in Europe, signaling the coming battle in the oncology space.4 In addition to biosimilars, Gazyva faces additional threats from novel agents such as Imbruvica (ibrutinib, Abbvie), duvelisib (Infinity), and Revlimid (lenalidomide, Celgene) that are being evaluated in combination with Rituxan in the front-line setting in their respective Phase III trials. Of these agents, the strongest threat to Gazyva appears to be Revlimid, showing a robust response rate when combined with Rituxan (98% ORR) in a Phase II trial of FL patients in the front-line setting.5 If the strong response rate seen in the Phase II trial translates into a survival benefit in the Phase III RELEVANCE (NCT01650701) trial, Revlimid with Rituxan will be in a good position to surpass Gazyva’s current lead in the treatment of FL.

For the time being however, Gazyva represents a leap forward in the treatment of NHL, which is good news indeed for patients.

References: 

  1. Sehn LH, Chua NS, Mayer J, et al. GADOLIN: Primary results from a phase III study of obinutuzumab plus bendamustine compared with bendamustine alone in patients with rituximab-refractory indolent non-Hodgkin lymphoma. J Clin Oncol. 2015;33(suppl; abstr LBA8502).
  2. Marcus RE, Davies AJ, Ando K, et al. Obinutuzumab-Based Induction and Maintenance Prolongs Progression-Free Survival (PFS) in Patients with Previously Untreated Follicular Lymphoma: Primary Results of the Randomized Phase 3 GALLIUM Study. Abstract 6, American Society of Hematology annual meeting, 2016.
  3. Kantar Health, CancerMPact® Treatment Architecture U.S., accessed December, 2016
  4. Sandoz, Press Release May 24, 2016
  5. Fowler NH, Davis RE, Rawal Seema et al. Safety and activity of lenalidomide and rituximab in untreated indolent lymphoma: an open-label, phase 2 trial. Lancet Oncol. 15(12): 1311-8, 2014
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