Genentech, Biogen Idec cancer therapy study yields positive results

NEW ORLEANS A combination of a biotech drug with a chemotherapy treatment helped patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia survive longer than the chemotherapy treatment alone, according to late-stage clinical trial results presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology in New Orleans.

Roche subsidiary Genentech and Biogen Idec announced results of an 817-patient phase 3 study comparing therapy with Rituxan (rituximab) and fludarabine and cyclophosphamide chemotherapy with FC chemotherapy alone in patients with previously untreated CLL. Of the patients, 87.2% of those who received Rituxan and FC were alive after more than three years of follow-up, compared with 82.5% of those who only took FC chemotherapy.

“Rituxan was the first targeted B-cell therapy approved for cancer in the U.S., and these new data once again illustrate Rituxan’s ability to improve patient outcomes,” Biogen Idec SVP oncology research and development Greg Reyes said in a statement. “These three-year data are exciting for people living with CLL.”