FDA approves rituximab biosimilar for cancer, autoimmune disorders


The Food and Drug Administration has approved rituximab-pvvr (Ruxience) for adults with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and granulomatosis with polyangiitis and microscopic polyangiitis. It is the first biosimilar approved to treat these two rare autoimmune conditions.

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Specifically, the biosimilar product is approved as single-agent therapy for relapsed or refractory, low grade or follicular, CD20-positive B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma; in combination with chemotherapy for other types of previously untreated CD20-positive B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma; and as a single agent for nonprogressing, low-grade, CD20-positive B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma after first-line chemotherapy treatment. It is also approved for both previously untreated and previously treated CD20-positive CLL in combination with chemotherapy. And it is approved for granulomatosis with polyangiitis and microscopic polyangiitis in combination with glucocorticoids.

The approval is based on demonstration that rituximab-pvvr had no clinically meaningful differences in safety or efficacy when compared with the reference drug, rituximab (Rituxan), according to a release from the biosimilar’s developer. As with rituximab, rituximab-pvvr’s label comes with an FDA boxed warning. In the biosimilar’s case, it warns against fatal infusion-related reactions, severe mucocutaneous reactions, hepatitis B virus reactivation, and progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy. Other adverse reactions include fever, headache, neutropenia, and lymphopenia.

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