AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV), a research-based global biopharmaceutical company, today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has lifted the partial clinical hold placed on CANOVA (M13-494), a Phase 3 trial evaluating venetoclax (VENCLEXTA® OR VENCLYXTO®) for the investigational treatment of relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma. The CANOVA trial evaluates venetoclax in combination with dexamethasone versus pomalidomide in combination with dexamethasone in patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma positive for the translocation (11;14) abnormality. The t(11;14) genetic biomarker is among the most common and routinely tested genetic abnormalities in patients with multiple myeloma.1
The FDA removed the partial clinical hold based upon agreement on revisions to the CANOVA study protocol, including new risk mitigation measures, protocol-specified guidelines and updated futility criteria. Enrollment in the CANOVA trial may resume as determined by each participant site based on the approved protocol.
All other clinical trials evaluating venetoclax in patients with multiple myeloma remain on partial clinical hold while next steps continue to be evaluated with the agency. The partial clinical hold does not impact any of the approved indications for venetoclax, such as chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) or acute myeloid leukemia (AML). AbbVie remains confident in the benefit/risk profile of venetoclax in those approved indications.
“We are pleased to move forward with the CANOVA study which, with the t(11;14) biomarker test, can help identify patients who may respond better to treatment and add clarity for physicians when choosing a therapy, if approved,” said Mohamed Zaki, M.D., Ph.D., global head of hematology development, AbbVie. “We are working closely with regulatory authorities worldwide to continue our efforts to understand the potential of venetoclax for patients with multiple myeloma while continuing to advance research in patients with the t(11;14) genetic abnormality.”
Results from the Phase 3 BELLINI trial evaluating patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma were presented at the 24th European Hematology Association (EHA) Annual Congress during the late-breaking oral presentation session on Sunday, June 16. Additional data will be presented at a future congress or published in a medical journal.2
In March 2019, AbbVie announced the FDA placed a partial clinical hold on all trials evaluating venetoclax for the investigational treatment of multiple myeloma, following a review of data from the Phase 3 BELLINI trial of venetoclax with bortezomib and dexamethasone (Ven + Vd) versus placebo (placebo + Vd) in patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma, in which a higher proportion of deaths (41/194 (21%)) was observed in the venetoclax arm compared to the control arm of the trial (11/97 (11%) — overall survival hazard ratio (HR) 2.027, 95% confidence interval (CI): [1.042, 3.945]). Progressive disease was the most common cause (45%) of death. The rates of serious adverse events (AEs) (48% vs 50%) and serious infections (28% vs 27%) were comparable between arms.2
Venetoclax is not approved by any regulatory authority, in any country for the treatment of multiple myeloma.
Despite the availability of multiple myeloma therapies, there is no optimal treatment sequence.3 Nearly all multiple myeloma patients eventually relapse, which is associated with poor outcomes, and each remission is typically shorter than the previous one.4 Patients with multiple myeloma have an average life expectancy of approximately five to six years after diagnosis.5 It is the second most common blood cancer with nearly 140,000 cases expected to be diagnosed worldwide this year.6,7
Venetoclax 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.
About CANOVA CANOVA is a Phase 3, multicenter, randomized, open label study of either venetoclax or pomalidomide in combination with dexamethasone in patients with t(11;14)-positive relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma.8
About BELLINIBELLINI is a multicenter, randomized, double blind study of either venetoclax or placebo in combination with bortezomib and dexamethasone in patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma who have received 1 to 3 prior lines of therapy and are sensitive or naïve to proteasome inhibitors. The study included 291 patients with 194 in the venetoclax arm and 97 in the placebo arm.9
The BELLINI trial met its primary endpoint of improved progression-free survival (PFS) (22.4 months vs. 11.5 months, [hazard ratio=0.63, p=0.01]), with a median follow-up of 18.7 months, and demonstrated statistically significant improvement in overall response rate (ORR) (82% vs. 68%, p<0.01) and very good partial or better response (59% vs. 36%, p<0.01) in the venetoclax arm compared to the control arm. Median overall survival was not reached (HR 2.027, 95% CI (1.042, 3.945)).2
Safety analyses showed the majority of deaths in the venetoclax arm were related to infection and progressive disease. There were 52 deaths in the study population, 41 (21%) in the venetoclax arm and 11 (12%) in the placebo arm, with progressive disease the most common cause (45%). The rates of serious AEs (48% vs 50%) and serious infections (28% vs 27%) were comparable between arms.2
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.10
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. Venetoclax is not approved by any regulatory authority, in any country for the treatment of multiple myeloma. 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 Information10
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 one 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
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 healthcare 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 healthcare 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 joint 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.pparx.org for assistance.
The full U.S. prescribing information, including Medication Guide, for VENCLEXTA can be found here. Globally, prescribing information varies; refer to the individual country product label for complete information.
Use and Important VENCLYXTO® (venetoclax) EU Safety Information11
VENCLYXTO (venetoclax) Indication
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 chemo immunotherapy and a B-cell receptor pathway inhibitor.
Important VENCLYXTO (venetoclax) EU Safety Information
ContraindicationsHypersensitivity 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 UseTumor 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.
Drug InteractionsCYP3A 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.
Adverse ReactionsThe 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.
Specific PopulationsPatients 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. VENCLYXTO should be administered to patients with severe renal impairment only if the benefit outweighs the risk and patients should be monitored closely for signs of toxicity due to increased risk of TLS.
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 OncologyAt 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. With the acquisitions of Pharmacyclics in 2015 and Stemcentrx in 2016, our research and development efforts, and through collaborations, AbbVie’s oncology portfolio now consists of marketed medicines and a pipeline containing multiple new molecules being evaluated worldwide in more than 200 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.
1 Anderson, K. C. (2014). Multiple myeloma: NCCN clinical practice guidelines in oncology (NCCN Guidelines®). 2 Kumar, et al. EHA 2019 Abstract #LBA2601.3 Costello, C., & Mikhael, J. R. (2018). Therapy sequencing strategies in multiple myeloma: Who, what and why? Future Oncology, 14(2), 95-99.4 Myeloma UK. Infopack for relapsed and/or refractory myeloma patients. https://www.myeloma.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Myeloma-UK-Infopack-for-relapsed_refractory-myeloma-patients.pdf [ONLINE] Accessed June 14, 2019.5 SEER Cancer Stat Facts: Myeloma. National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/mulmy.html. [ONLINE] Accessed, June 14, 2019.6 Kazandjian D. Multiple myeloma epidemiology and survival, a unique malignancy. Semin Oncol. 2016; 43(6): 676-681.7 Cowan AJ, Allen C, Barac A, et al. Global burden of multiple myeloma: a systematic analysis for the global burden of disease study 2016. JAMA Oncol. 2018; 4(9): 1221-1227.8 Clinicaltrials.gov (2018). NCT 03539744: A Study of Venetoclax and Dexamethasone Compared With Pomalidomide and Dexamethasone in Subjects With Relapsed or Refractory Multiple Myeloma (CANOVA). Accessed June 14, 2019.9 Clinicaltrials.gov (2018). NCT02755597: A study evaluating venetoclax (ABT-199) in multiple myeloma subjects who are receiving bortezomib and dexamethasone as standard therapy. Accessed March 2019.10 VENCLEXTA (venetoclax) [Package Insert]. North Chicago, IL.: AbbVie Inc.11 Summary of Product Characteristics for VENCLYXTO (venetoclax). Ludwigshafen, Germany: AbbVie Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG.
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