Genentech lymphoma treatment gets FDA approval

August 16, 2022 - 4 minutes
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Genentech, a part of the Roche Group, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accepted the company’s supplemental Biologics License Application (sBLA) for Polivy.

Polivy (polatuzumab vedotin-piiq), in combination with Rituxan (rituximab) plus cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin and prednisone (R-CHP) for the treatment of people with previously untreated diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). The FDA is expected to make a decision on approval by April 2, 2023.

“The POLARIX study results suggest that Polivy plus R-CHP could transform the treatment of this aggressive malignancy, and we are working with the FDA to bring this combination to newly diagnosed DLBCL patients as soon as possible,” said Levi Garraway, chief medical officer and head of global product development. 

“We hope it will become the new standard of care for the first-line treatment of DLBCL, potentially reducing the need for subsequent treatments and limiting patient burden.”

Disease progression

DLBCL is an aggressive blood cancer. Although DLBCL often responds to initial treatment, it is not cured with the current standard of care in four out of 10 people. Most relapses occur within two years of starting treatment, and the majority of those who require subsequent lines of therapy have poor outcomes.

The sBLA is based on results from the pivotal phase III POLARIX trial, which is the first in two decades to show a clinically meaningful improvement in progression-free survival (PFS) compared to the current standard of care Rituxan plus cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine and prednisone (R-CHOP). 

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The risk of disease progression, relapse or death was reduced by 27% with Polivy plus R-CHP compared with R-CHOP after a median follow-up of 28.2 months. Safety outcomes were consistent with those seen in previous clinical trials, and the safety profile was comparable for Polivy plus R-CHP versus R-CHOP.

EC approval

Based on pivotal data from the POLARIX study, the European Commission approved Polivy in combination with R-CHP in May 2022 for the treatment of adult patients with previously untreated DLBCL. Polivy is currently approved as a readily available, fixed-duration treatment option for relapsed or refractory (R/R) DLBCL in combination with bendamustine and Rituxan/Mabthera in more than 70 countries worldwide, including in the U.S. and in the EU.

About the POLARIX study

POLARIX is an international phase III, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluating the efficacy, safety and pharmacokinetics of Polivy (polatuzumab vedotin-piiq) plus Rituxan (rituximab), cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin and prednisone (R-CHP) versus rituximab, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine and prednisone (R-CHOP) in people with previously untreated diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). 

In the study, 879 patients were randomized 1:1 to receive either Polivy plus R-CHP plus a vincristine placebo for six cycles, followed by rituximab for two cycles; or R-CHOP plus a Polivy placebo for six cycles, followed by two cycles of rituximab. The primary outcome measure is progression-free survival (PFS) as assessed by the investigator using the Lugano Response Criteria for malignant lymphoma. 

About diffuse large B-cell lymphoma

Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is the most common form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), accounting for about one in three cases of NHL. DLBCL is an aggressive (fast-growing) type of NHL. While it is generally responsive to treatment in the frontline, as many as 40% of people will relapse or have refractory disease, at which time salvage therapy options are limited and survival is short. Approximately 150,000 people worldwide are estimated to be diagnosed with DLBCL each year.

About Polivy (polatuzumab vedotin-piiq)

Polivy is a first-in-class anti-CD79b antibody-drug conjugate (ADC). The CD79b protein is expressed specifically in the majority of B cells, an immune cell impacted in some types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), making it a promising target for the development of new therapies. Polivy binds to cancer cells such as CD79b and destroys these B cells through the delivery of an anti-cancer agent, which is thought to minimize the effects on normal cells. Polivy is being developed by Genentech using Seagen ADC technology and is currently being investigated for the treatment of several types of NHL.

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