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Roche’s MabThera Delays Need for Additional Treatment

Dec. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Roche Holding AG’s MabThera medicine helped keep a common form of blood cancer at bay without the need for additional therapy, a study found.

Patients newly diagnosed with advanced follicular lymphoma who were treated with MabThera decreased their risk of needing additional treatment with chemotherapy or radiotherapy by 80 percent, compared with those who were just monitored, according to the abstract of the company-funded study being presented at a meeting of the American Society of Hematology in Orlando, Florida. MabThera patients cut the risk of their disease worsening by 79 percent, the study of 462 patients found.

MabThera, also called rituximab, in October won European regulatory approval for the initial maintenance treatment of patients with follicular lymphoma. The medicine is approved for rheumatoid arthritis and chronic lymphocytic leukemia in addition to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. MabThera generated 1.52 billion Swiss francs ($1.52 billion) in revenue for Roche during the third quarter.

“These data indicate that initial treatment with rituximab significantly delays the need for new therapy and this finding may change the management of patients with newly diagnosed asymptomatic follicular lymphoma,” the study’s authors, which included Kirit Ardeshna from University College London Hospitals, wrote in the abstract.

Chemotherapy has shown no benefit when given to newly diagnosed patients with follicular lymphoma and is usually delayed until the disease progresses, according to the abstract.

Patients who were monitored needed to start treatment after a median of 34 months, while the median time for MabThera patients hasn’t been reached after four years, Roche said today in an e-mailed statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dermot Doherty in Geneva at ddoherty9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at pserafino@bloomberg.net

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