NORTH CHICAGO, Ill., Dec. 8, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV), a research-based global biopharmaceutical company, today presented long-term data from a post-hoc analysis, further supporting the sustained clinical benefit of fixed duration treatment with VENCLEXTA®/VENCLYXTO® (venetoclax) in combination with rituximab (VenR) in patients with relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia (R/R CLL). The updated data from the Phase 3 MURANO trial four-year analysis (median follow-up of 48 months with all patients off VENCLEXTA/VENCLYXTO treatment for a median of 22 months) showed that patients with R/R CLL who completed the chemotherapy-free, two-year fixed duration course of VENCLEXTA/VENCLYXTO treatment combination maintained progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS). Patients who completed treatment with the VENCLEXTA/VENCLYXTO combination also achieved higher rates of minimal residual disease (MRD)-negativity and complete remissions compared to those treated with a standard of care, bendamustine plus rituximab (BR).1 The full results were presented today at the 61st American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting & Exposition (abstract #355).
"These results support the benefits of a fixed duration of treatment with venetoclax to reduce the risk of disease progression or death in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia," said Mohammed Zaki, M.D., Ph.D., vice president, global head of hematology development at AbbVie. "We remain committed to understanding the full utility of venetoclax combinations and to advancing other clinical development programs with the potential to transform the standards of care for patients with blood cancers."
"In the four-year analysis from the MURANO trial, treatment with the venetoclax combination resulted in an 81 percent reduction in the risk of progression or death compared to the standard of care," said Professor John Seymour, MBBS, Ph.D., lead investigator of the MURANO trial and director of the Department of Hematology at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Royal Melbourne Hospital in Australia. "The sustained efficacy and manageable safety profile observed in the study further support the clinical benefits of fixed treatment in patients with relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia."
In the post-hoc analysis, median follow-up for patients who completed two years of treatment with the venetoclax combination without progressive disease (n=130) was 22 months (range: 1 to 35 months). PFS (HR, 0.19, 95% CI: 0.14, 0.25, descriptive p<0.0001) and OS (HR 0.41, 95% CI: 0.26,0.65, descriptive p<0.0001) remained durable for patients taking VenR compared to those taking BR. Twenty-four months after patients were off therapy, the investigator (INV)-assessed estimated PFS was 57.3% (95% CI 49.4, 65.3) versus estimated PFS of 4.6% (95% CI, 0.1, 9.2) in patients taking BR. Additionally, the OS analysis showed a four-year event-free rate of 85.3% (95% CI: 89.2, 99.0) in the venetoclax arm compared to 66.8% for BR (medians not reached). The improvements in both PFS and OS were observed despite 79% of patients in the control arm receiving an additional targeted CLL treatment after disease progression.1
By the end of treatment, 64% of patients had achieved MRD-negativity, and 87% of those patients remained free of disease progression two years post-treatment.1 MRD-negativity is defined as the presence of less than one CLL cell in 10,000 white blood cells remaining in the blood or bone marrow following treatment. Achieving MRD-negativity was assessed as a secondary endpoint because it is associated with improved clinical outcomes.2 Higher rates of MRD-negativity were observed off treatment in patients taking VenR than in those taking standard of care BR.1
The safety profile of the combination is consistent with the known safety profile of each individual therapy alone. There were no new serious safety issues observed in the MURANO study since the last update. Excluding non-melanoma skin cancer, there was one report of melanoma in the standard of care cohort, and one report of melanoma and one report of breast cancer in the venetoclax combination cohort.1
Venetoclax, a first-in-class oral B-cell lymphoma-2 (BCL-2) inhibitor, is being developed by AbbVie and Roche. It is jointly commercialized by AbbVie and Genentech, a member of Roche Group, in the U.S. and by AbbVie outside the U.S.
Design and Results of the Phase 3 MURANO Trial
A total of 389 patients with R/R CLL who had received at least one prior therapy were enrolled in the international, multicenter, open-label, randomized Phase 3 MURANO trial. The trial was designed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of venetoclax in combination with rituximab (n=194) compared with bendamustine in combination with rituximab (n=195). The median age of patients in the trial was 65 years (range: 22 to 85).3
The primary efficacy endpoint was INV-assessed PFS. At the time of the primary analysis, median PFS with venetoclax in combination with rituximab was not reached compared with 17.0 months for bendamustine in combination with rituximab (HR: 0.17; 95% CI: 0.11, 0.25; p<0.0001). In the primary efficacy analysis, the median follow-up for PFS was 23.8 months (range: 0 to 37.4). Additional efficacy endpoints included independent review committee (IRC)-assessed PFS, INV- and IRC-assessed overall response rate (defined as complete response + complete response with incomplete marrow recovery + partial response + nodular partial response), OS and rates of MRD-negativity.3
About VENCLEXTA®/VENCLYXTO® (venetoclax)
VENCLEXTA®/VENCLYXTO® (venetoclax) is a first-in-class medicine that selectively binds and inhibits the B-cell lymphoma-2 (BCL-2) protein. In some blood cancers, BCL-2 prevents cancer cells from undergoing their natural death or self-destruction process, called apoptosis. VENCLEXTA/VENCLYXTO targets the BCL-2 protein and works to help restore the process of apoptosis.
VENCLEXTA/VENCLYXTO is being developed by AbbVie and Roche. It is jointly commercialized by AbbVie and Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, in the U.S. and by AbbVie outside of the U.S. Together, the companies are committed to BCL-2 research and to studying venetoclax in clinical trials across several blood and other cancers.
VENCLEXTA/VENCLYXTO is approved in more than 50 countries, including the U.S. AbbVie, in collaboration with Roche, is currently working with regulatory agencies around the world to bring this medicine to additional eligible patients in need.
Uses and Important VENCLEXTA® (venetoclax) U.S. Safety Information 
VENCLEXTA is a prescription medicine used:
- to treat adults with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) or small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL)
- 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.
VENCLEXTA was approved based on response rates. Continued approval for this use may depend on the results of 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
What is the most important information I should know about VENCLEXTA?
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. Your healthcare provider will do tests to check your risk of getting TLS before you start taking VENCLEXTA. You will receive other medicines before starting and during treatment with VENCLEXTA to help reduce your risk of TLS. You may also need to receive intravenous (IV) fluids into your vein. Your healthcare provider will do blood tests to check for TLS when you first start treatment and during treatment with VENCLEXTA.
It is important to keep your appointments for blood tests. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you 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.
Drink plenty of water when taking VENCLEXTA to help reduce your risk of getting TLS. Drink 6 to 8 glasses (about 56 ounces total) of water each day, starting 2 days before your first dose, on the day of your first dose of VENCLEXTA, and each time your dose is increased.
Your healthcare provider may delay, decrease your dose, or stop treatment with VENCLEXTA if you have side effects.
Who should not take VENCLEXTA?
Certain medicines must not be taken when you first start taking VENCLEXTA and while your dose is being slowly increased because of the risk of increased TLS.
- Tell your health care provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. VENCLEXTA and other medicines may affect each other, causing serious side effects.
- Do not start new medicines during treatment with VENCLEXTA without first talking with your health care provider.
Before taking VENCLEXTA, tell your healthcare provider about all of your medical conditions, including if you:
- have kidney problems.
- have problems with your body salts or electrolytes, such as potassium, phosphorus, or calcium.
- have a history of high uric acid levels in your blood or gout.
- are scheduled to receive a vaccine. You should not receive a "live vaccine" before, during, or after treatment with VENCLEXTA, until your healthcare provider tells you it is okay. If you are not sure about the type of immunization or vaccine, ask your healthcare provider. 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 your unborn baby. If you are able to become pregnant, your healthcare provider should do a pregnancy test before you start treatment with VENCLEXTA, and you should use effective birth control during treatment and for 30 days after the last dose of VENCLEXTA. If you become pregnant or think you are pregnant, tell your healthcare provider right away.
- are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if VENCLEXTA passes into your breast milk. Do not breastfeed during treatment with VENCLEXTA.
What should I avoid while taking VENCLEXTA?
You should not drink grapefruit juice, or eat grapefruit, Seville oranges (often used in marmalades), or starfruit while you are taking VENCLEXTA. These products may increase the amount of VENCLEXTA in your blood.
What are the possible side effects of VENCLEXTA?
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. Your healthcare provider will do blood tests to check your blood counts during treatment with VENCLEXTA.
- Infections. Death and serious infections such as pneumonia and blood infection (sepsis) have happened during treatment with VENCLEXTA. Your healthcare provider will closely monitor and treat you right away if you have a fever or any signs of infection during treatment with VENCLEXTA.
Tell your healthcare provider right away if you 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 obinutuzumab or rituximab or alone in people with CLL or SLL include low white blood cell counts; low platelet counts; low red blood cell counts; diarrhea; nausea; upper respiratory tract infection; cough; muscle and join pain; tiredness; and swelling of your arms, legs, hands, and feet.
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 your 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 your ability to father a child. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have concerns about fertility.
These are not all the possible side effects of VENCLEXTA. For more information, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit http://www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
If you cannot afford your medication, contact www.medicineassistancetool.org for assistance.
The full U.S. prescribing information, including Medication Guide, for VENCLEXTA can be found here.
Indication and Important VENCLYXTO (venetoclax) EU Safety Information5
Venclyxto in combination with rituximab is indicated for the treatment of adult patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) who have received at least one prior therapy.
Venclyxto monotherapy is indicated for the treatment of CLL:
- in the presence of 17p deletion or TP53 mutation in adult patients who are unsuitable for or have failed a B-cell receptor pathway inhibitor, or
- in the absence of 17p deletion or TP53 mutation in adult patients who have failed both chemoimmunotherapy and a B-cell receptor pathway inhibitor.
Hypersensitivity to the active substance or to any of the excipients is contraindicated. Concomitant use of strong CYP3A inhibitors at initiation and during the dose-titration phase due to increased risk for tumor lysis syndrome (TLS). Concomitant use of preparations containing St. John's wort as VENCLYXTO efficacy may be reduced.
Special Warnings & Precautions for Use
Tumor lysis syndrome (TLS), including fatal events, has occurred in patients with previously treated CLL with high tumor burden when treated with VENCLYXTO. VENCLYXTO poses a risk for TLS in the initial 5-week dose-titration phase. Changes in electrolytes consistent with TLS that require prompt management can occur as early as 6 to 8 hours following the first dose of VENCLYXTO and at each dose increase. Patients should be assessed for risk and should receive appropriate prophylaxis, monitoring, and management for TLS.
Neutropenia (grade 3 or 4) has been reported and complete blood counts should be monitored throughout the treatment period. Serious infections including events of sepsis with fatal outcome have been reported. Supportive measures including antimicrobials for any signs of infection should be considered.
Live vaccines should not be administered during treatment or thereafter until B-cell recovery.
CYP3A inhibitors may increase VENCLYXTO plasma concentrations. At initiation and dose-titration phase: Strong CYP3A inhibitors are contraindicated due to increased risk for TLS and moderate CYP3A inhibitors should be avoided. If moderate CYP3A inhibitors must be used, physicians should refer to the SmPC for dose adjustment recommendations. At steady daily dose: If moderate or strong CYP3A inhibitors must be used, physicians should refer to the SmPC for dose adjustment recommendations.
Avoid concomitant use of P-gp and BCRP inhibitors at initiation and during the dose titration phase.
CYP3A4 inducers may decrease VENCLYXTO plasma concentrations. Avoid coadministration with strong or moderate CYP3A inducers. These agents may decrease venetoclax plasma concentrations.
Co-administration of bile acid sequestrants with VENCLYXTO is not recommended as this may reduce the absorption of VENCLYXTO.
The most commonly occurring adverse reactions (>=20%) of any grade in patients receiving venetoclax in the combination study with rituximab were neutropenia, diarrhea, and upper respiratory tract infection. In the monotherapy studies, the most common adverse reactions were neutropenia/neutrophil count decreased, diarrhea, nausea, anemia, fatigue, and upper respiratory tract infection.
The most frequently occurring serious adverse reactions (>=2%) in patients receiving venetoclax in combination with rituximab or as monotherapy were pneumonia, febrile neutropenia and TLS.
Discontinuation due to adverse reactions occurred in 16% of patients receiving venetoclax plus rituximab and 9% receiving venetoclax monotherapy. Dosage adjustments due to adverse reactions occurred in 15% of patients receiving venetoclax plus rituximab and 2% receiving venetoclax monotherapy. Dose interruptions occurred in 71% of patients treated with the combination of venetoclax and rituximab.
Patients with reduced renal function (CrCl <80 mL/min) may require more intensive prophylaxis and monitoring to reduce the risk of TLS. Safety in patients with severe renal impairment (CrCl <30 mL/min) or on dialysis has not been established, and a recommended dose for these patients has not been determined. For patients with severe (Child-Pugh C) hepatic impairment, a dose reduction of at least 50% throughout treatment is recommended.
VENCLYXTO may cause embryo-fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. Advise nursing women to discontinue breastfeeding during treatment.
This is not a complete summary of all safety information. See VENCLYXTO full summary of product characteristics (SmPC) at www.ema.europa.eu. Globally, prescribing information varies; refer to the individual country product label for complete information.
About AbbVie in Oncology
At AbbVie, we strive to discover and develop medicines that deliver transformational improvements in cancer treatment by uniquely combining our deep knowledge in core areas of biology with cutting-edge technologies, and by working together with our partners – scientists, clinical experts, industry peers, advocates, and patients. We remain focused on delivering these transformative advances in treatment across some of the most debilitating and widespread cancers. We are also committed to exploring solutions to help patients obtain access to our cancer medicines. AbbVie's oncology portfolio now consists of marketed medicines and a pipeline containing multiple new molecules being evaluated worldwide in more than 300 clinical trials and more than 20 different tumor types. For more information, please visit http://www.abbvie.com/oncology.
AbbVie is a global, research and development-based biopharmaceutical company committed to developing innovative advanced therapies for some of the world's most complex and critical conditions. The company's mission is to use its expertise, dedicated people and unique approach to innovation to markedly improve treatments across four primary therapeutic areas: immunology, oncology, virology and neuroscience. In more than 75 countries, AbbVie employees are working every day to advance health solutions for people around the world. For more information about AbbVie, please visit us at www.abbvie.com. Follow @abbvie on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram.
Some statements in this news release are, or may be considered, forward-looking statements for purposes of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The words "believe," "expect," "anticipate," "project" and similar expressions, among others, generally identify forward-looking statements. AbbVie cautions that these forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated in the forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, competition from other products, challenges to intellectual property, difficulties inherent in the research and development process, adverse litigation or government action, and changes to laws and regulations applicable to our industry. Additional information about the economic, competitive, governmental, technological and other factors that may affect AbbVie's operations is set forth in Item 1A, "Risk Factors," of AbbVie's 2018 Annual Report on Form 10-K, which has been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. AbbVie undertakes no obligation to release publicly any revisions to forward-looking statements as a result of subsequent events or developments, except as required by law.
1Seymour JF, et al. Four-Year Analysis of Murano Study Confirms Sustained Benefit of Time-Limited Venetoclax-Rituximab (VenR) in Relapsed/Refractory (R/R) Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL). Presented at the 2019 American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting & Exposition: December 8, 2019; Orlando.
2Hallek M, Cheson BD, Catovsky D, et al. Guidelines for diagnosis, indications for treatment, response assessment and supportive management of chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Blood. 2018;806398.
3Seymour JF, Kipps TJ, Eichhorst B, et al. Venetoclax-rituximab in relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia. N Engl J Med. 2018;378(12):1107-1120.
4VENCLEXTA (venetoclax) [Package Insert]. North Chicago, IL.: AbbVie Inc.
5Summary of Product Characteristics for VENCLYXTO (venetoclax). Ludwigshafen, Germany: AbbVie Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG.