Rituxan Plus Chemotherapy Effective For Leukemia Treatment

Armen Hareyan's picture

Rituxan is found to be a good blood cancer treatment method given together with traditional chemotherapy.

Genentech Inc. and Biogen Idec conducted a late stage trial called REACH and involving 552 chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients, who had already received chemotherapy treatment, but had relapsed after the treatment. The trial divided the patients into two groups: the first one receiving only chemotherapy and the second one receiving chemotherapy in combination with Rituxan.


Rituxan is a drug manufactured by Biogen. It was discovered in 1997 and approved as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma treatment. Later it was also approved as rheumatoid arthritis treatment.

Leukemia is cancer of the blood cells, lymphocytic leukemia is the most common type of leukemia, which is estimated by American Cancer Society to be diagnosed in 15000 patients in 2008. The disease is currently being treated by chemotherapy mainly, but success rate is too low. There are no many approved treatment options for these patients, and Rituxan will be a good choice for patients.

The trial showed that Rituxan-chemotherapy combination stopped leukemia progression, and patients lived without the disease worsening. This was the primary goal of the trial and it was successfully reached. The secondary goals were improving survival rate and increasing the time between disease relapses - these goals were also successfully achieved.

Rituxan is already being widely used as an off-label drug for lymphocytic leukemia treatment. Since the drug works good and it met both primary and secondary goals in the trial, it should be officially announced as a cancer drug. This is why Genentech and Biogen will soon apply the drug to FDA's approval.