FDA OKs zanubrutinib for CLL or SLL


The Food and Drug Administration granted accelerated approval for zanubrutinib (Brukinsa) to treat patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) or small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL).

By giving the nod to these uses of this second-generation Bruton’s tyrosine kinase inhibitor, the FDA expanded on its previous approvals of this drug in mantle cell and marginal zone lymphoma.

“We have seen striking data from the Brukinsa development program demonstrating significant and consistent efficacy across CLL patient subtypes, including the high-risk del17p/TP53-mutated population, and regardless of treatment setting,” Jennifer R. Brown, MD, PhD, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, said in a press release from drug developer BeiGene.

The FDA’s decision was based on two phase 3 trials – SEQUOIA and ALPINE. The SEQUOIA trial assessed 479 patients with treatment-naive CLL/SLL who either received zanubrutinib until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity or bendamustine plus rituximab for six cycles. Median progression-free survival was not reached in the zanubrutinib arm and was 33.7 months in the bendamustine plus rituximab arm (hazard ratio, 0.42).

In a separate, nonrandomized SEQUOIA cohort, investigators assessed zanubrutinib in patients with a 17p deletion and found an overall response rate of 88%. In addition, over the 25-month follow-up, the median duration of response was not reached.

The ALPINE trial included 652 patients with relapsed or refractory CLL/SLL who received either zanubrutinib or ibrutinib. The overall response rate was 80% in the zanubrutinib arm versus 73% in the ibrutinib arm, and the median duration of response was not reached in either arm over the 14-month follow-up period. Median progression-free survival was not reached in the zanubrutinib arm and was 35 months in the ibrutinib group.

Dr. Brown, a lead investigator on both drug trials, suggested that, given the improvements observed in progression-free survival, zanubrutinib could become the standard of care in this setting.

In the ALPINE trial, treatment discontinuation rate was lower among patients receiving zanubrutinib (26%) versus ibrutinib (41.2%), with most discontinuations a result of adverse events or progressive disease.

And across both trials, the most common adverse reactions were decreased neutrophil count (42%), upper respiratory tract infection (39%), decreased platelet count (34%), hemorrhage (30%), and musculoskeletal pain (30%).

A version of this article first appeared on Medscape.com.

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