Genentech: Rituxan improved asymptomatic follicular lymphoma symptoms among patients in trial

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — A biotech drug made by Roche subsidiary Genentech allowed patients with a blood cancer, who did not show symptoms, to delay starting on chemotherapy or radiotherapy, and decreased the risk of their disease worsening, according to results of a late-stage clinical trial.

Genentech said results of the trial of Rituxan (rituximab) showed that patients with asymptomatic follicular lymphoma who immediately received the drug fared better than those who took a “watchful waiting approach,” meaning they waited until the disease began showing symptoms and worsening. Compared with the “watchful waiting” approach, patients receiving Rituxan decreased the risk of needing additional therapy by 80% and decreased the risk of the disease worsening by 79%.

“These are the first phase-3 data to have shown that initial use of Rituxan monotherapy as induction followed by maintenance had an impact in patients with asymptomatic follicular lymphoma, a disease that is commonly treated only after symptoms appear,” Genentech EVP product development and chief medical officer Hal Barron said. “Early treatment interventions in prior studies in this population were not considered to provide meaningful clinical benefit.”