News from the FDA/CDC

FDA approves acalabrutinib for CLL, SLL treatment


The Food and Drug Administration has approved acalabrutinib (Calquence) as initial or subsequent treatment for adults with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) or small lymphocytic leukemia (SLL).

A stamp saying "FDA approved." Olivier Le Moal/Getty Images

The approval came as part of Project Orbis, a collaboration among the FDA, the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration, and Health Canada. The program allows for the concurrent submission of review of oncology drug applications among the various agencies.

Acalabrutinib, a bruton tyrosin kinase inhibitor, is already approved in the United States for the treatment of adults with mantle cell lymphoma who have received at least one prior therapy. The FDA granted breakthrough therapy designation to acalabrutinib as a monotherapy for adults with CLL in August 2019, allowing for an expedited review.

The approval in CLL/SLL was based on results from two randomized clinical trials comparing acalabrutinib with other standard treatments. In the first trial, patients with previously untreated CLL who received acalabrutinib had a longer progression-free survival time, compared with patients who received standard treatment. A similar result was seen in the second trial among patients with previously treated CLL.

The most common adverse events associated with acalabrutinib include anemia, neutropenia, upper respiratory tract infection, thrombocytopenia, headache, diarrhea, and musculoskeletal pain. Patients receiving the drug should be monitored for symptoms of arrhythmia, serious infection, bleeding, and low blood count. Full prescribing information can be found on the FDA website.

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