FDA approves J&J's non-chemotherapy combination regimen for rare blood cancer

Aug 28, 2018

The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) announced the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of Imbruvica (ibrutinib) in combination with rituximab for the treatment of Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia (WM), a rare blood cancer. The approval expands the label for Imbruvica in WM beyond its current approved use as a monotherapy to include combination use with rituximab.

This approval represents the first approved non-chemotherapy combination option for the treatment of WM. Imbruvica first received FDA approval in WM as a monotherapy in January 2015 via the Breakthrough Therapy Designation pathway, making it the first FDA-approved therapy for the disease. The expanded label marks the ninth FDA approval for the product since 2013. Imbruvica is Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor jointly developed and commercialized by Janssen Biotech Inc. and Pharmacyclics LLC, an AbbVie company.

The latest approval is based on results from the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled iNNOVATE study (PCYC-1127), the largest Phase 3 study of a non-chemotherapy combination in WM patients. The iNNOVATE study evaluated Imbruvica in combination with rituximab versus placebo plus rituximab in 150 patients with either relapsed/refractory (r/r) disease or previously untreated WM.

At a median follow up of 26.5 months, a significant improvement in the Independent Review Committee (IRC)-assessed primary endpoint of progression-free survival (PFS) was seen with Imbruvica plus rituximab when compared with placebo plus rituximab (30-month PFS rates were 82% vs. 28%, respectively). Patients in the Imbruvica plus rituximab treatment arm experienced an 80% reduction in relative risk of disease progression or death compared with patients treated with placebo plus rituximab (hazard ratio=0.20; confidence interval, 0.11-0.38, p<0.0001). The data were presented in an oral session at the 2018 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting, selected for Best of ASCO 2018 Meetings, and simultaneously published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Warnings and Precautions remain the same.

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