Adding MabThera to first line chemotherapy significantly increases patients_ overall survival
BASEL, Switzerland (21 May, 2007) _ In a study published yesterday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, MabThera (rituximab) plus chemotherapy (MCP*) was shown to significantly improve survival in patients with follicular lymphoma (FL) compared to chemotherapy alone.1 Follicular lymphoma is the most common type of indolent lymphoma, a slow progressing but incurable form of lymphoma.
The study demonstrated that the chances of surviving from this cancer are improved by the addition of 8 cycles of MabThera to chemotherapy - overall survival at 4 years for patients treated with MabThera plus chemotherapy was 87%, compared to only 74% for patients receiving chemotherapy alone. Additionally, patients receiving MabThera combined with chemotherapy remained in remission significantly longer than those receiving chemotherapy alone (median progression free survival has not been reached in MabThera patients vs. 29 months in patients who received chemotherapy alone). These results further strengthens the position of MabThera as the cornerstone of first-line treatment of indolent NHL, regardless of the chemotherapy used.
_The data presented in this study clearly demonstrate a significant survival benefit to patients from adding MabThera to first line treatment in indolent NHL,_ commented Prof. Michael Herold, lead investigator for the trial. _We are encouraged by the results and believe that MabThera should be added to the treatment regimen, irrespective of the type of chemotherapy used._
Non-Hodgkin_s lymphoma affects 1 million people worldwide. About 45% of NHL patients have the indolent form of the disease, which while slow to progress, has no cure. NHL is one of the fastest growing cancers and has grown in incidence by 80% since the early 1970s.
*mitoxantrone, chlorambucil and prednisolone
About the study
The open-label, randomised study was conducted in 34 centres throughout Germany and involved previously untreated stage II-IV, histologically confirmed, CD20_positive indolent NHL (FL, lymphoplasmocytic lymphoma) and mantle cell lymphoma. Patients were randomised at trial entry to treatment with MCP or a combination of rituximab and MCP (R_MCP). The primary endpoint in this study was the remission rate, defined as the rate of complete (CR) and partial (PR) remissions after induction therapy.
MabThera is a therapeutic antibody that binds to a particular protein - the CD20 antigen - on the surface of normal and malignant B-cells. It then recruits the body's natural defences to attack and kill the marked B-cells. Stem cells (B-cell progenitors) in bone marrow lack the CD20 antigen, allowing healthy B-cells to regenerate after treatment and return to normal levels within several months.
MabThera is indicated for the treatment of indolent and aggressive Non-Hodgkin_s Lymphoma. MabThera is known as Rituxan in the United States, Japan and Canada. To date, patients have received more than 1 million treatments with MabThera worldwide.
Genentech and Biogen Idec co-market MabThera in the United States, and Roche markets MabThera in the rest of the world, except Japan, where MabThera is co-marketed by Chugai and Zenyaku Kogyo Co. Ltd.
Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is one of the world_s leading research-focused healthcare groups in the fields of pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. As the world_s biggest biotech company and an innovator of products and services for the early detection, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases, the Group contributes on a broad range of fronts to improving people_s health and quality of life. Roche is the world leader in in-vitro diagnostics and drugs for cancer and transplantation, a market leader in virology and active in other major th erapeutic areas such as autoimmune diseases, inflammation, metabolism and central nervous system. In 2006 sales by the Pharmaceuticals Division totalled 33.3 billion Swiss francs, and the Diagnostics Division posted sales of 8.7 billion Swiss francs. Roche employs roughly 75,000 worldwide and has R&D agreements and strategic alliances with numerous partners, including majority ownership interests in Genentech and Chugai. Additional information about the Roche Group is available on the Internet at www.roche.com <http://www.roche.com/> .
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Note to editors:
1 Herold, et al. Hematological Malignancies _ Rituximab Added to First-Line Mitoxantrone, Chlorambucil and Prednisolone Chemotherapy Followed by Interferon Maintenance Prolongs Survival in Patients With Advanced Follicular Lymphoma. Journal of Clinical Oncology, May 20, 2007; 25 (15)
. Accessed 14 May, 2007
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For more information, please contact: <http://www.who.int/>
Robert Purcell Amber Bradbury <http://www.who.int/>
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