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FDA Approves Adcetris to Treat Two Types of Lymphoma

SILVER SPRING, Md., Aug. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Adcetris (brentuximab vedotin) to treat Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) and a rare lymphoma known as systemic anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL).


Lymphomas are cancers of the lymphatic system. Adcetris is an antibody-drug conjugate that combines an antibody and drug, allowing the antibody to direct the drug to a target on lymphoma cells known as CD30.

Adcetris is to be used in patients with HL whose disease has progressed after autologous stem cell transplant or after two prior chemotherapy treatments for those who cannot receive a transplant. Autologous stem cell transplant is a procedure using a patient's own bone marrow that is designed to repair damaged bone marrow after the use of high chemotherapy doses. Adcetris may also be used in patients with ALCL whose disease has progressed after one prior chemotherapy treatment.

"Early clinical data suggest that patients who received Adcetris for Hodgkin lymphoma and systemic anaplastic lymphoma experienced a significant response to the therapy," said Richard Pazdur, M.D., director of the Office of Oncology Drug Products in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), common symptoms of HL include the enlargement of lymph nodes, spleen, fever, weight loss, fatigue, or night sweats. NCI estimates that 8,830 new cases of HL will be diagnosed in the United States in 2011 and about 1,300 people will die from the disease.

Systemic ALCL is a rare malignant tumor (non-Hodgkin lymphoma) that may appear in several parts of the body including the lymph nodes, skin, bones, soft tissue, lungs or liver, according to the NCI.

Adcetris is the first new FDA-approved treatment for HL since 1977 and the first specifically indicated to treat ALCL.

The effectiveness of Adcetris in patients with HL was evaluated in a single clinical trial involving 102 patients. In the single-arm trial, patients were only treated with Adcetris. The study's primary endpoint was objective response rate, the percentage of patients who experienced complete or partial cancer shrinkage or disappearance after treatment. Seventy-three percent of patients achieved either a complete or partial response to the treatment. On average, these patients responded to the therapy for 6.7 months.

The effectiveness of Adcetris in patients with systemic ALCL was evaluated in a single clinical trial in 58 patients. In the single-arm trial, patients were only treated with Adcetris. Similar to the HL trial, the trial's primary endpoint was objective response rate. Of the patients receiving Adcetris for ALCL, 86 percent experienced either a complete or partial response and responded on average for 12.6 months.

The most common side effects experienced with Adcetris were a decrease in infection-fighting white blood cells (neutropenia), nerve damage (peripheral sensory neuropathy), fatigue, nausea, anemia, upper respiratory infection, diarrhea, fever, cough, vomiting, and low blood platelet levels (thrombocytopenia).

Pregnant women should be aware that Adcetris might cause harm to their unborn baby.  

The drug is being approved under the FDA's accelerated approval program, which allows the agency to approve a drug to treat a serious disease based on clinical data showing that the drug has an effect on a surrogate endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict a clinical benefit to patients. The program is designed to provide patients with earlier access to promising new drugs, but the company will be required to submit additional clinical information after approval to confirm the drug's clinical benefit.

Adcetris is marketed by Seattle Genetics of Bothell, Wash.

For more information:

FDA: Office of Oncology Drug Products

NCI: Hodgkin lymphoma

NCI: Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation's food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

Media Inquiries: Erica Jefferson, 301-796-4988,
Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA

SOURCE U.S. Food and Drug Administration
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