Healthcare Industry News:  ibrutinib 

Biopharmaceuticals Oncology

 News Release - June 5, 2017

New Data Presented at ASCO 2017 Finds IMBRUVICA(R) (ibrutinib) May Offer a More Targeted Approach to Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) Treatment than Chemotherapy Agent Chlorambucil in Treatment-Naïve Patients

IMBRUVICA effectively impacted cancerous cells while sparing non-cancerous white blood cells through one year of treatment

This release corresponds to abstract #7524

NORTH CHICAGO, Ill., June 5, 2017 -- (Healthcare Sales & Marketing Network) -- IMBRUVICA (ibrutinib) reduced cells that may play an important role in the survival and proliferation of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), without negatively impacting non-cancerous immune system cells, through one year of treatment, according to new data presented today at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago (poster session: 8:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. CDT; abstract #7524).1 The data regarding IMBRUVICA, a first-in-class Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor, were announced by AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV), a global biopharmaceutical company. IMBRUVICA is jointly developed and commercialized by Pharmacyclics LLC, an AbbVie company, and Janssen Biotech, Inc.

The data, which assessed the impact of treatment on the immune system and changes in circulating cells, found that IMBRUVICA reduced cancerous cells and other cells of the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment including CLL cells (90 percent), myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC, 61 percent) and some T cells (27-52 percent). At the same time, IMBRUVICA spared non-cancerous immune system cells, including naïve T cells, T memory stem cells (TSCM) and natural killer (NK) cells through one year of treatment. Classical monocytes (a type of white blood cell) were increased by 187 percent, while non-classical monocytes and intermediate monocytes remained relatively steady. The data were derived from the Phase 3 RESONATE™-2 trial (PCYC-1115), which found IMBRUVICA reduced the risk of progression or death of treatment-naïve patients with CLL compared to the traditional chemotherapeutic chlorambucil.1

"These results show the IMBRUVICA mechanism of action at work and provide greater clarity on the potential role that BTK inhibition plays in tumor modulation," said Danelle James, M.D., M.S., Head of Clinical Science, Pharmacyclics LLC, an AbbVie company. "These data suggest that treatment with the chemotherapy agent chlorambucil has broad effects when administered to CLL patients – where almost all subsets of normal immune cells are impacted or decreased. In contrast, treatment with ibrutinib resulted in preservation of certain important immune cell subsets, providing evidence that IMBRUVICA may offer a more targeted treatment approach."

The study found treatment with chlorambucil indiscriminately affected most immune cell subsets in circulation, including progressively reducing circulating B, T, NK, NKT cells, MDSC and monocytes by 69-99 percent. All development stages of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, except TSCM, decreased by 51-90 percent. Regulatory T cells (Treg) and PD1+ T cells also decreased similarly; however, long-term activated T cells (TLA) were not impacted.1

"We've made substantial progress in cancer treatment over the years with the discovery and introduction of novel therapies such as IMBRUVICA. We are able to more specifically target the tumor while sparing normal immune cells, and the study data show the potential for improved treatment options that eliminate or minimize the use of chemotherapy in CLL," added James.

CLL is a type of cancer that starts from cells that become certain white blood cells (called lymphocytes) in the bone marrow. The leukemia (cancer) cells start in the bone marrow but then spread into the blood. There are more than 20,000 newly diagnosed CLL patients every year.2 CLL is primarily a disease of the elderly, with a median age of 71 at diagnosis.3 To date, more than 25,000 CLL patients have been treated in the U.S. with IMBRUVICA since approval in 2014.

In the study over one year, immunophenotypic analyses were performed by flow cytometry on peripheral blood to assess lymphoid and myeloid cells of treatment-native CLL patients who received IMBRUVICA 420 mg once daily (n=50) or 0.5-0.8 mg/kg chlorambucil twice a month (n=30).1

About the RESONATE-2 Study

RESONATE-2 is a Pharmacyclics-sponsored, randomized, multi-center, open-label, Phase 3 study which enrolled 269 treatment-naïve patients with CLL/small lymphocytic leukemia (SLL) aged 65 years or older in the U.S., EU and other regions. Patients were randomized to receive either IMBRUVICA 420 mg orally, once daily until progression or unacceptable toxicity, or chlorambucil on days 1 and 15 of each 28-day cycle for up to 12 cycles. The starting dose for chlorambucil in Cycle 1 was 0.5 mg/kg and was increased based on tolerability in Cycle 2 by increments of 0.1 mg/kg to a maximum of 0.8 mg/kg. The study met its primary endpoint, demonstrating improved progression free survival (PFS), as assessed by an independent review committee (IRC).

The most common adverse events (AEs >20%) of all Grades in the RESONATE-2 trial for ibrutinib were diarrhea (42%), fatigue (30%), cough (22%) and nausea (22%); AEs for chlorambucil included nausea (39%), fatigue (38%), neutropenia (23%) and vomiting (20%). Hypertension occurred at a higher rate with ibrutinib (14%), including Grade 3 (4%) with no Grade 4 or 5 events. All six patients with Grade 3 hypertension were managed with hypertensive medication and did not require ibrutinib dose reduction or discontinuation. Atrial fibrillation occurred in eight patients (6%) in the ibrutinib arm and was primarily Grade 2 in six patients and Grade 3 in two patients. It was managed with discontinuation in two patients and without a dose modification in remaining patients.

Overall, AEs leading to treatment discontinuation were less frequent with ibrutinib than with chlorambucil (9% versus 23%). There were three deaths in the ibrutinib arm and 17 deaths in the chlorambucil arm over the median follow-up of 18.4 months. None of the patients who progressed on ibrutinib died during the subsequent follow-up period.


IMBRUVICA (ibrutinib) is a first-in-class, oral, once-daily therapy that inhibits a protein called Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK). BTK is a key signaling molecule in the B-cell receptor signaling complex that plays an important role in the survival and spread of malignant B cells.3,4 IMBRUVICA blocks signals that tell malignant B cells to multiply and spread uncontrollably.4

IMBRUVICA is FDA-approved in five distinct patient populations: CLL, SLL, Waldenström's macroglobulinemia (WM), along with previously-treated mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) and marginal zone lymphoma (MZL).4

  • IMBRUVICA was first approved for patients with MCL who have received at least one prior therapy in November 2013.
  • Soon after, IMBRUVICA was initially approved in CLL patients who have received at least one prior therapy in February 2014. By July 2014, the therapy received approval for CLL patients with 17p deletion, and by March 2016, the therapy was approved as a frontline CLL treatment.
  • IMBRUVICA was approved for patients with WM in January 2015.
  • In May 2016, IMBRUVICA was approved in combination with bendamustine and rituximab (BR) for CLL/SLL patients.
  • In January 2017, IMBRUVICA was approved for patients with MZL who require systemic therapy and have received at least one prior anti-CD20-based therapy.

Accelerated approval was granted for the MCL and MZL indications based on overall response rate. Continued approval for MCL and MZL may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trials.4

IMBRUVICA was one of the first medicines to receive U.S. FDA approval via the new Breakthrough Therapy Designation pathway. This designation is intended to expedite the development and review of a potential new drug for serious or life-threatening diseases. IMBRUVICA has been granted four Breakthrough Therapy Designations from the FDA, spanning CLL/SLL, WM, MCL, and chronic graft-versus-host-disease (cGVHD). In addition, IMBRUVICA is the first standard therapy specifically approved for patients with previously-treated MZL and WM.

IMBRUVICA is being studied alone and in combination with other treatments in several blood and solid tumor cancers and other serious illnesses. IMBRUVICA has one of the most robust clinical oncology development programs for a single molecule in the industry, with approximately 130 ongoing clinical trials. There are a total of 30 ongoing company-sponsored trials, 14 of which are in Phase 3, and approximately 100 investigator-sponsored trials and external collaborations that are active around the world. To date, 70,000 patients around the world have been treated with IMBRUVICA in clinical practice and clinical trials.



Hemorrhage - Fatal bleeding events have occurred in patients treated with IMBRUVICA®. Grade 3 or higher bleeding events (intracranial hemorrhage [including subdural hematoma], gastrointestinal bleeding, hematuria, and post-procedural hemorrhage) have occurred in up to 6% of patients. Bleeding events of any grade, including bruising and petechiae, occurred in approximately half of patients treated with IMBRUVICA®.

The mechanism for the bleeding events is not well understood. IMBRUVICA® may increase the risk of hemorrhage in patients receiving antiplatelet or anticoagulant therapies and patients should be monitored for signs of bleeding. Consider the benefit-risk of withholding IMBRUVICA® for at least 3 to 7 days pre- and postsurgery depending upon the type of surgery and the risk of bleeding.

Infections - Fatal and nonfatal infections have occurred with IMBRUVICA® therapy. Grade 3 or greater infections occurred in 14% to 29% of patients. Cases of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) and Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia (PJP) have occurred in patients treated with IMBRUVICA®. Evaluate patients for fever and infections and treat appropriately.

Cytopenias - Treatment-emergent Grade 3 or 4 cytopenias including neutropenia (range, 13% to 29%), thrombocytopenia (range, 5% to 17%), and anemia (range, 0% to 13%) based on laboratory measurements occurred in patients treated with single agent IMBRUVICA®. Monitor complete blood counts monthly.

Atrial Fibrillation - Atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter (range, 6% to 9%) have occurred in patients treated with IMBRUVICA®, particularly in patients with cardiac risk factors, hypertension, acute infections, and a previous history of atrial fibrillation. Periodically monitor patients clinically for atrial fibrillation. Patients who develop arrhythmic symptoms (eg, palpitations, lightheadedness) or new-onset dyspnea should have an ECG performed. Atrial fibrillation should be managed appropriately and if it persists, consider the risks and benefits of IMBRUVICA® treatment and follow dose modification guidelines.

Hypertension - Hypertension (range, 6% to 17%) has occurred in patients treated with IMBRUVICA® with a median time to onset of 4.6 months (range, 0.03 to 22 months). Monitor patients for new-onset hypertension or hypertension that is not adequately controlled after starting IMBRUVICA®. Adjust existing antihypertensive medications and/or initiate antihypertensive treatment as appropriate.

Second Primary Malignancies - Other malignancies (range, 3% to 16%) including non-skin carcinomas (range, 1% to 4%) have occurred in patients treated with IMBRUVICA®. The most frequent second primary malignancy was non-melanoma skin cancer (range, 2% to 13%).

Tumor Lysis Syndrome - Tumor lysis syndrome has been infrequently reported with IMBRUVICA® therapy. Assess the baseline risk (eg, high tumor burden) and take appropriate precautions. Monitor patients closely and treat as appropriate.

Embryo-Fetal Toxicity - Based on findings in animals, IMBRUVICA® can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. Advise women to avoid becoming pregnant while taking IMBRUVICA® and for 1 month after cessation of therapy. If this drug is used during pregnancy or if the patient becomes pregnant while taking this drug, the patient should be apprised of the potential hazard to a fetus. Advise men to avoid fathering a child during the same time period.


The most common adverse reactions (≥20%) in patients with B-cell malignancies (MCL, CLL/SLL, WM and MZL) were neutropenia** (61%), thrombocytopenia** (62%), diarrhea (43%), anemia** (41%), musculoskeletal pain (30%), rash (30%), nausea (29%), bruising (30%), fatigue (29%), hemorrhage (22%), and pyrexia (21%).

** Based on adverse reactions and/or laboratory measurements (noted as platelets, neutrophils, or hemoglobin decreased).

The most common Grade 3 or 4 non-hematologic adverse reactions (≥5%) in MCL patients were pneumonia (7%), abdominal pain (5%), atrial fibrillation (5%), diarrhea (5%), fatigue (5%), and skin infections (5%).

The most common Grade 3 or 4 non-hematologic adverse reactions (≥5%) in MZL patients were pneumonia (10%), fatigue (6%), diarrhea (5%), rash (5%), and hypertension (5%).

Approximately 6% (CLL/SLL), 14% (MCL), 11% (WM) and 10% (MZL) of patients had a dose reduction due to adverse reactions. Approximately 4%-10% (CLL/SLL), 9% (MCL), and 9% (WM [6%] and MZL [13%]) of patients discontinued due to adverse reactions. Most common adverse reactions leading to discontinuation were pneumonia, hemorrhage, atrial fibrillation, rash, and neutropenia (1% each) in CLL/SLL patients and subdural hematoma (1.8%) in MCL patients. The most common adverse reactions leading to discontinuation were interstitial lung disease, diarrhea, and rash (1.6% each) in WM and MZL patients.


CYP3A Inhibitors - Avoid coadministration with strong and moderate CYP3A inhibitors. If a moderate CYP3A inhibitor must be used, reduce the IMBRUVICA® dose.

CYP3A Inducers - Avoid coadministration with strong CYP3A inducers.


Hepatic Impairment - Avoid use in patients with moderate or severe baseline hepatic impairment. In patients with mild impairment, reduce IMBRUVICA® dose.

Please see Full Prescribing Information:

About AbbVie

AbbVie is a global, research-driven biopharmaceutical company committed to developing innovative advanced therapies for some of the world's most complex and critical conditions. The company's mission is to use its expertise, dedicated people and unique approach to innovation to markedly improve treatments across four primary therapeutic areas: immunology, oncology, virology and neuroscience. In more than 75 countries, AbbVie employees are working every day to advance health solutions for people around the world. For more information about AbbVie, please visit us at Follow @abbvie on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

Forward-Looking Statements

Some statements in this news release may be forward-looking statements for purposes of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The words "believe," "expect," "anticipate," "project" and similar expressions, among others, generally identify forward-looking statements. AbbVie cautions that these forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated in the forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, challenges to intellectual property, competition from other products, difficulties inherent in the research and development process, adverse litigation or government action, and changes to laws and regulations applicable to our industry. Additional information about the economic, competitive, governmental, technological and other factors that may affect AbbVie's operations is set forth in Item 1A, "Risk Factors," in AbbVie's 2015 Annual Report on Form 10-K, which has been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. AbbVie undertakes no obligation to release publicly any revisions to forward-looking statements as a result of subsequent events or developments, except as required by law.

IMBRUVICA is a registered trademark of Pharmacyclics LLC.

1 Solman et al. ibrutinib vs chlorambucil: immunophenotypic and quantitative impacts on circulating immune cells in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). ASCO 2017. Abstract #7524.

2 IMS Database [Data on File]

3 American Cancer Society. What are the key statistics for chronic lymphocytic leukemia? Available from: Accessed April 2017.

4 Genetics Home Reference. Isolated growth hormone deficiency. Available from: Accessed May 2017.

Source: AbbVie

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