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AbbVie, Roche drive Venclexta toward $3B with Rituxan combo nod in CLL

June 11, 2018 / Tracy Staton

AbbVie and Roche just nabbed an FDA approval that spares certain relapsed leukemia patients chemotherapy and could be key to $3 billion in peak sales to boot. Their new blood cancer drug Venclexta, combined with oncology stalwart Rituxan, won a nod to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients who’ve relapsed. The approval expands Venclexta’s reach considerably, because it applies to CLL patients with or without a genetic mutation known as the 17p deletion. Plus, it’s the first oral, chemo-free cocktail that patients can stop taking after a course of treatment rather than taking it continuously, AbbVie pointed out on Friday, and it’s based on data showing that the Venclexta-Rituxan combo beat Rituxan paired with a standard chemotherapy, bendamustine. That study, presented in December at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting, showed that the Venclexta-Rituxan duo cut the risk of disease worsening or death by 83% compared with the chemo combo.