06.01.18 Press Release

Phase 3 IMBRUVICA® (ibrutinib) Data Suggest Improved Treatment Outcomes in Waldenström’s Macroglobulinemia (WM), a Rare Form of Blood Cancer, in Combination with Rituximab versus Rituximab Alone

Phase 3 IMBRUVICA® (ibrutinib) Data Suggest Improved Treatment Outcomes in Waldenström’s Macroglobulinemia (WM), a Rare Form of Blood Cancer, in Combination with Rituximab versus Rituximab Alone

  • Study data suggest IMBRUVICA plus rituximab could provide a new option across all lines of WM treatment, regardless of prognostic or genotypic factors
  • At 30 months, progression-free survival (PFS) rates for patients treated with ibrutinib plus rituximab versus rituximab alone were 82 percent and 28 percent, respectively
  • Positive Phase 3 WM data highlighted in an oral presentation (abstract #8003) and selected for the Best of ASCO Meetings
  • Study data were simultaneously published in The New England Journal of Medicine
  • IMBRUVICA is the first and only FDA-approved treatment for WM patients
NORTH CHICAGO, Ill., June 1, 2018 – AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV), a research-based global biopharmaceutical company, today announced findings from an interim analysis of the Phase 3 iNNOVATE (PCYC-1127) study evaluating IMBRUVICA® (ibrutinib) plus RITUXAN® (rituximab) in previously untreated and relapsed/refractory patients with Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia (WM), a rare type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). At a median follow up of 26.5 months, the study successfully met its primary endpoint, demonstrating a significant improvement in progression-free survival (PFS) with ibrutinib plus rituximab compared to rituximab alone (30 month PFS rates were 82 percent versus 28 percent, respectively). Patients taking ibrutinib plus rituximab also experienced an 80 percent reduction in relative risk of disease progression or death than those only treated with rituximab (hazard ratio, 0.20; confidence interval: 0.11-0.38, P <0.0001). Additionally, the data found that the combination with ibrutinib provided reductions in infusion reactions associated with rituximab and immunoglobin M (IgM) flare.1

These data was presented today in an oral presentation at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago (abstract #8003) and were simultaneously published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The data were also selected for the 2018 Best of ASCO Meetings. With the support of these positive findings, a supplemental New Drug Application (sNDA) to expand the use of IMBRUVICA as a combination therapy in WM was submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for review. The Independent Data Monitoring Committee (IDMC) in late 2017 recommended unblinding iNNOVATE based on these positive findings.

“The iNNOVATE study provides further evidence of the potential clinical benefit of IMBRUVICA-based combination therapy in patients with Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia,” said Thorsten Graef, M.D., Ph.D., Head of Clinical Development at Pharmacyclics LLC, an AbbVie company. “The data from this chemotherapy-free combination regimen suggests that patients with Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia, including those who are newly diagnosed, could have another beneficial therapeutic option in the future.”

WM is a rare and incurable form of (NHL) with limited treatment options. There are about 2,800 new cases of WM in the U.S. each year.In January 2015, IMBRUVICA received FDA approval for all lines of treatment in WM and is the first and only FDA-approved therapy specifically indicated for this disease. IMBRUVICA has been available in the U.S. since 2013 and is FDA-approved for use in five B-cell blood cancers, as well as previously-treated chronic graft-versus-host disease. IMBRUVICA is a first-in-class Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor jointly developed and commercialized by Pharmacyclics LLC, an AbbVie company, and Janssen Biotech, Inc.

“The iNNOVATE trial broadens our understanding about how to treat patients with WM, including those with certain subtypes or genomic abnormalities,” said Dr. Meletios A. Dimopoulos, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Clinical Therapeutics at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens School of Medicine, Athens, Greece and lead investigator of the iNNOVATE study.* “As a clinician, I’m hopeful that the data from iNNOVATE could potentially lead to a new option for treating this rare and incurable disease.”

To view all IMBRUVICA company-sponsored or investigator-initiated studies being presented at ASCO 2018, please visit: https://meetinglibrary.asco.org

Abstract #8001: Randomized phase 3 trial of ibrutinib/rituximab vs placebo/rituximab in Waldenström’s Macroglobulinemia
Oral presentation: Friday, June 1, 3:45pm CDT

In the iNNOVATE study, PFS occurred at a higher rate in patients treated with ibrutinib plus rituximab compared to rituximab alone, with PFS rates of 82% versus 28% at 30 months, respectively. Notably, ibrutinib plus rituximab exhibited longer duration of PFS in all relevant patient subgroups, including treatment-naïve, relapsed, and in patients with MYD88L265P and CXCR4WHIM mutations, versus rituximab. Patients taking ibrutinib plus rituximab also experienced an 80 percent reduction in relative risk of disease progression or death than those only treated with rituximab (median PFS, not reached [NR] vs 20.3 months; HR, 0.20; CI: 0.11-0.38, P <0.0001). 

iNNOVATE is a Pharmacyclics-sponsored, placebo-controlled, double-blind, Phase 3 study, which evaluated relapsed/refractory and treatment-naïve WM patients (n=150) who were randomized to receive intravenous rituximab 375 mg/m2 once weekly for four consecutive weeks, followed by a second once weekly for four consecutive weeks rituximab course after a three-month interval. All patients received either ibrutinib 420 mg or placebo once daily continuously until criteria for permanent discontinuation were met. The IRC-determined primary endpoint was PFS, with secondary objectives including overall response rate, hematological improvement measured by hemoglobin, time-to-next treatment (TTnT), overall survival (OS), and number of participants with adverse events (AEs) as a measure of safety and tolerability within each treatment arm.

Overall response rates and major response rates were significantly higher for ibrutinib plus rituximab versus rituximab (92% vs 47%; 72% vs 32% [both P <0.0001]). In addition, there was also an improvement in hemoglobin seen in patients treated with the combination versus rituximab (73% vs 41%, P <0.0001). 

Of the patients on ibrutinib plus rituximab, 75% continued on treatment. Median TTnT was NR for ibrutinib plus rituximab and 18 months for rituximab (HR, 0.096; P <0.0001). The 30-month OS rates were 94% versus 92% in the two arms. 

At the median time on treatment (ibrutinib plus rituximab, 25.8 months; rituximab plus placebo, 15.5 months,), grade 3 or higher treatment-emergent AEs occurred in 60% of patients treated with ibrutinib plus rituximab, versus 61% of patients treated with rituximab. Serious AEs occurred in 43% versus 33% of patients on ibrutinib plus rituximab vs rituximab. No fatal AEs occurred with ibrutinib plus rituximab and 3 with rituximab. Meaningful reductions in any grade IgM flare (8% vs 47%) and grade 3 or higher infusion reactions were observed (1% vs 16%) with ibrutinib plus rituximab.

IMBRUVICA (ibrutinib) is a first-in-class, oral, once-daily therapy that mainly works by blocking a protein called Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK). BTK is a key signaling molecule in the B-cell receptor signaling complex that plays an important role in the survival and spread of malignant B cells as well as other serious, debilitating conditions.IMBRUVICA blocks signals that tell malignant B cells to multiply and spread uncontrollably. 

IMBRUVICA is FDA-approved in six distinct patient populations: chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL), Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia (WM), along with previously-treated mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), previously-treated marginal zone lymphoma (MZL) and previously-treated chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD).4
  • IMBRUVICA was first approved for adult patients with MCL who have received at least one prior therapy in November 2013.
  • Soon after, IMBRUVICA was initially approved in adult CLL patients who have received at least one prior therapy in February 2014. By July 2014, the therapy received approval for adult CLL patients with 17p deletion, and by March 2016, the therapy was approved as a frontline CLL treatment.
  • IMBRUVICA was approved for adult patients with WM in January 2015.
  • In May 2016, IMBRUVICA was approved in combination with bendamustine and rituximab (BR) for adult patients with previously treated CLL/SLL.
  • In January 2017, IMBRUVICA was approved for adult patients with MZL who require systemic therapy and have received at least one prior anti-CD20-based therapy.
  • In August 2017, IMBRUVICA was approved for adult patients with cGVHD that failed to respond to one or more lines of systemic therapy.
Accelerated approval was granted for the MCL and MZL indications based on overall response rate. Continued approval for MCL and MZL may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trials.

IMBRUVICA has been granted four Breakthrough Therapy Designations from the U.S. FDA. This designation is intended to expedite the development and review of a potential new drug for serious or life-threatening diseases.5  IMBRUVICA was one of the first medicines to receive FDA approval via the new Breakthrough Therapy Designation pathway.

IMBRUVICA is being studied alone and in combination with other treatments in several blood and solid tumor cancers and other serious illnesses. IMBRUVICA has one of the most robust clinical oncology development programs for a single molecule in the industry, with more than 130 ongoing clinical trials. There are approximately 30 ongoing company-sponsored trials, 14 of which are in Phase 3, and more than 100 investigator-sponsored trials and external collaborations that are active around the world. To date, 100,000 patients around the world have been treated with IMBRUVICA in clinical practice and clinical trials.



Hemorrhage: Fatal bleeding events have occurred in patients treated with IMBRUVICA®. Grade 3 or higher bleeding events (intracranial hemorrhage [including subdural hematoma], gastrointestinal bleeding, hematuria, and post-procedural hemorrhage) have occurred in up to 6% of patients. Bleeding events of any grade, including bruising and petechiae, occurred in approximately half of patients treated with IMBRUVICA®
The mechanism for the bleeding events is not well understood. 

IMBRUVICA® may increase the risk of hemorrhage in patients receiving antiplatelet or anticoagulant therapies and patients should be monitored for signs of bleeding. 

Consider the benefit-risk of withholding IMBRUVICA® for at least 3 to 7 days pre and post-surgery depending upon the type of surgery and the risk of bleeding. 

Infections: Fatal and non-fatal infections (including bacterial, viral, or fungal) have occurred with IMBRUVICA® therapy. Grade 3 or greater infections occurred in 14% to 29% of patients. Cases of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) and Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia (PJP) have occurred in patients treated with IMBRUVICA®. Consider prophylaxis according to standard of care in patients who are at increased risk for opportunistic infections.

Monitor and evaluate patients for fever and infections and treat appropriately. 

Cytopenias: Treatment-emergent Grade 3 or 4 cytopenias including neutropenia (range, 13 to 29%), thrombocytopenia (range, 5 to 17%), and anemia (range, 0 to 13%) based on laboratory measurements occurred in patients with B-cell malignancies treated with single agent IMBRUVICA®

Monitor complete blood counts monthly. 

Cardiac Arrhythmias: Fatal and serious cardiac arrhythmias have occurred with IMBRUVICA® therapy. Grade 3 or greater ventricular tachyarrhythmias occurred in 0 to 1% of patients, and Grade 3 or greater atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter occurred in 0 to 6% of patients. These events have occurred particularly in patients with cardiac risk factors, hypertension, acute infections, and a previous history of cardiac arrhythmias. 

Periodically monitor patients clinically for cardiac arrhythmias. Obtain an ECG for patients who develop arrhythmic symptoms (e.g., palpitations, lightheadedness, syncope, chest pain) or new onset dyspnea. Manage cardiac arrhythmias appropriately, and if it persists, consider the risks and benefits of IMBRUVICA® treatment and follow dose modification guidelines.

Hypertension: Hypertension (range, 6 to 17%) has occurred in patients treated with IMBRUVICA® with a median time to onset of 4.6 months (range, 0.03 to 22 months). Monitor patients for new onset hypertension or hypertension that is not adequately controlled after starting IMBRUVICA®

Adjust existing anti-hypertensive medications and/or initiate anti-hypertensive treatment as appropriate.

Second Primary Malignancies: Other malignancies (range, 3 to 16%) including non-skin carcinomas (range, 1 to 4%) have occurred in patients treated with IMBRUVICA®. The most frequent second primary malignancy was non-melanoma skin cancer (range, 2 to 13%).

Tumor Lysis Syndrome: Tumor lysis syndrome has been infrequently reported with IMBRUVICA® therapy. Assess the baseline risk (e.g., high tumor burden) and take appropriate precautions.

Monitor patients closely and treat as appropriate.

Embryo-Fetal Toxicity: Based on findings in animals, IMBRUVICA® can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. Advise women to avoid becoming pregnant while taking IMBRUVICA® and for 1 month after cessation of therapy. If this drug is used during pregnancy or if the patient becomes pregnant while taking this drug, the patient should be apprised of the potential hazard to a fetus. Advise men to avoid fathering a child during the same time period.


B-cell malignancies: The most common adverse reactions (≥20%) in patients with B-cell malignancies (MCL, CLL/SLL, WM and MZL) were thrombocytopenia (62%)*, neutropenia (61%)*, diarrhea (43%), anemia (41%)*, musculoskeletal pain (30%), bruising (30%), rash (30%), fatigue (29%), nausea (29%), hemorrhage (22%), and pyrexia (21%). 

The most common Grade 3 or 4 adverse reactions (≥5%) in patients with B-cell malignancies (MCL, CLL/SLL, WM and MZL) were neutropenia (39%)*, thrombocytopenia (16%)*, and pneumonia (10%). 

Approximately 6% (CLL/SLL), 14% (MCL), 11% (WM) and 10% (MZL) of patients had a dose reduction due to adverse reactions. Approximately 4%-10% (CLL/SLL), 9% (MCL), and 9 % (WM [6%] and MZL [13%]) of patients discontinued due to adverse reactions. 

cGVHD: The most common adverse reactions (≥20%) in patients with cGVHD were fatigue (57%), bruising (40%), diarrhea (36%), thrombocytopenia (33%)*, stomatitis (29%), muscle spasms (29%), nausea (26%), hemorrhage (26%), anemia (24%)*, and pneumonia (21%).

The most common Grade 3 or 4 adverse reactions (≥5%) reported in patients with cGVHD were fatigue (12%), diarrhea (10%), neutropenia (10%)*, pneumonia (10%), sepsis (10%), hypokalemia (7%), 
headache (5%), musculoskeletal pain (5%), and pyrexia (5%). 

Twenty-four percent of patients receiving IMBRUVICA® in the cGVHD trial discontinued treatment due to adverse reactions. Adverse reactions leading to dose reduction occurred in 26% of patients. 

*Treatment-emergent decreases (all grades) were based on laboratory measurements and adverse reactions.


CYP3A Inhibitors: Dose adjustment may be recommended. 

CYP3A Inducers: Avoid coadministration with strong CYP3A inducers. 

Hepatic Impairment
(based on Child-Pugh criteria): Avoid use of IMBRUVICA® in patients with severe baseline hepatic impairment. In patients with mild or moderate impairment, reduce IMBRUVICA® dose. 

Please click here for full Prescribing Information.

About AbbVie
AbbVie is a global, research-driven biopharmaceutical company committed to developing innovative advanced therapies for some of the world's most complex and critical conditions. The company's mission is to use its expertise, dedicated people and unique approach to innovation to markedly improve treatments across four primary therapeutic areas: immunology, oncology, virology and neuroscience. In more than 75 countries, AbbVie employees are working every day to advance health solutions for people around the world. For more information about AbbVie, please visit us at www.abbvie.com. Follow @abbvie on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn

Forward-Looking Statements
Some statements in this news release may be forward-looking statements for purposes of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The words “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “project” and similar expressions, among others, generally identify forward-looking statements. AbbVie cautions that these forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated in the forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, challenges to intellectual property, competition from other products, difficulties inherent in the research and development process, adverse litigation or government action, and changes to laws and regulations applicable to our industry. Additional information about the economic, competitive, governmental, technological and other factors that may affect AbbVie's operations is set forth in Item 1A, “Risk Factors,” in AbbVie's 2015 Annual Report on Form 10-K, which has been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. AbbVie undertakes no obligation to release publicly any revisions to forward-looking statements as a result of subsequent events or developments, except as required by law.


Ilke Limoncu
Phone: 669-224-1836

Liz Shea
Phone: 847-935-2211

U.S. Medical Information
Phone: 877-877-3536
IMBRUVICA is a registered trademark of Pharmacyclics LLC.
SOURCE AbbVie Inc.

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*Disclaimer: Dr. Dimopoulos served as lead investigator of this Pharmacyclics-sponsored clinical study. Dr. Dimopoulos does not have a financial interest in the company. 
1Dimopoulos, et al. ASCO 2018 Abstract #8003. June 2018.
2Lymphoma Research Foundation. Getting the facts: Waldenström macroglobulinemia. https://www.lymphoma.org/wpcontent/uploads/2017/06/LRF_FACTSHEET_Waldenstro%CC%88m_Macroglobulinemia.pdf. Accessed May 2018.
3Genetics Home Reference. Isolated growth hormone deficiency. http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/isolated-growth-hormone-deficiency. Accessed May 2018.
4IMBRUVICA U.S. Prescribing Information, February 2018
5U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Fact sheet: breakthrough therapies. https://www.fda.gov/RegulatoryInformation/LawsEnforcedbyFDA/SignificantAmendmentstotheFDCAct/FDASIA/ucm329491.htm. Accessed May 2018.