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What is the success rate of Rituxan (rituximab) in patients with blood cancers?

Medically reviewed by Nicole France, BPharm. Last updated on Oct 6, 2021.

Official answer

by Drugs.com

Rituxan (rituximab) is a monoclonal antibody, which works by targeting the CD20 protein antigen displayed on the surface of B-cells. It is used in the treatment of a variety of conditions including non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), rheumatoid arthritis, granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GAP) and moderate to severe pemphigus.

In patients with hematological or blood cancers, including NHL and CLL, Rituxan’s success is measured in a number of ways. It is measured by looking at how long patients responded to treatment (median duration of response), how long they live without their disease progressing (progression-free survival) and how many patients respond to treatment (response rate).

How effective is Rituxan in people with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma?

Rituxan treatment improves outcomes in certain patients with NHL. Adding Rituxan alongside standard therapies enhances the response patients have to treatment and improves overall outcomes, including increasing the time patients live for without experiencing a progression of their disease.

NHL patient group Measure of success
Relapsed or refractory, low grade or follicular, CD20-positive B-cell NHL as a single agent

(Results from three single-arm studies in 296 patients)

Median duration of response
  • Rituxan weekly for 4 weeks. 11.2 months (1.9 to 42.1+)
  • Rituxan weekly for 8 weeks. 13.4 months (2.5 to 36.5+)
  • Rituxan weekly for 4 weeks in patients with bulky disease. 6.9 months (2.8 to 25.0+)
  • Rituxan retreatment weekly for 4 weeks. 15.0 months (3.0 to 25.1+)
Overall response rate (including complete and partial responses)
  • Rituxan weekly for 4 weeks. 48%
  • Rituxan weekly for 8 weeks. 57%
  • Rituxan weekly for 4 weeks in patients with bulky disease. 36%
  • Rituxan retreatment weekly for 4 weeks. 38%
Complete response rate
  • Rituxan weekly for 4 weeks. 6%
  • Rituxan weekly for 8 weeks. 14%
  • Rituxan weekly for 4 weeks in patients with bulky disease. 3%
  • Rituxan retreatment weekly for 4 weeks. 10%
Previously untreated follicular, CD20-positive, B-cell NHL in combination with first line chemotherapy and, in patients achieving
a complete or partial response to a rituximab product in combination with chemotherapy, as single-agent maintenance therapy

+
Non-progressing (including stable disease), low-grade, CD20­ positive, B-cell NHL as a single agent after first-line cyclophosphamide, vincristine, and prednisone (CVP) chemotherapy

(Results from three randomized controlled trials in 1662 patients)

Median progression-free survival
  • Rituxan + CVP chemotherapy. 2.4 years
    vs
    CVP chemotherapy alone. 1.4 years (P<0.0001)
  • Rituxan maintenance therapy following treatment with Rituxan + chemotherapy increased progression-free survival compared with patients who did not receive maintenance therapy - hazard ratio 0.54 (95% CI 0.42, 0.70)
  • In patients previously treated with CVP chemotherapy, maintenance treatment with Rituxan reduced the risk of progression, relapse or death compared with patients who did not receive maintenance therapy - hazard ratio range 0.36 to 0.49
Previously untreated diffuse large B-cell, CD20-positive NHL in combination with (cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine,
and prednisone) (CHOP) or other anthracycline-based chemotherapy regimens

(Results from three randomized, active-controlled, open-label, multicenter trials in 1854 patients)

Progression-free survival
  • Rituxan + CHOP. 3.1 years
    vs
    CHOP. 1.6 years
Event-free survival
  • Rituxan + CHOP. 2.9 years
    vs
    CHOP. 1.1 years
Time to treatment failure
  • Rituxan + chemo - not able to be estimated
    vs
    Chemo - not able to be estimated

How effective is Rituxan in people with chronic lymphocytic leukemia?

Rituxan helps to improve overall survival in certain patients with CLL and also helps to increase the time patients live for without experiencing disease progression. Adding Rituxan alongside standard therapy enhances the response patients have to therapy.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia patient group Measure of success
Previously untreated CD20-positive CLL in combination with fludarabine and cyclophosphamide (FC)

(Results from one randomized multicenter open-label study in 817 patients)

Median progression-free survival
  • Rituxan + FC. 39.8 months
    vs
    FC. 31.5 months (p<0.01)
Overall response rate
  • Rituxan + FC. 86% (95% CI, 82, 89)
    vs
    FC. 73% (95% CI, 68, 77)
Previously treated CD20-positive CLL in combination FC

(Results from one randomized multicenter open-label study in 552 patients)

Median progression-free survival
  • Rituxan + FC. 26.7 months
    vs
    FC. 21.7 months (p=0.02)
Overall response rate
  • Rituxan + FC. 54% (95% CI, 48, 60)
    vs
    FC. 45% (95% CI, 37, 51)

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