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NORTH CHICAGO, Ill., July 21, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV) announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted a Breakthrough Therapy Designation (BTD) to venetoclax (VENCLEXTA®) in combination with azacitidine for the potential treatment of adult patients with previously untreated intermediate-, high- and very high-risk myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) based on revised International Prognostic Scoring System (IPSS-R). A BTD is intended to expedite the development and review of medications to treat a serious medical condition and is granted when preliminary clinical evidence indicates the investigational therapy may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies.1 This marks the sixth BTD granted to venetoclax.

MDS are a group of diverse bone marrow disorders in which the bone marrow does not produce enough healthy blood cells.2 Patients living with MDS may experience symptoms such as infection, anemia, spontaneous bleeding, and easy bruising. Roughly 10,000 patients in the US are diagnosed with MDS each year3 and around 30 percent of those patients will progress to acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Although MDS can occur at any age, it is most commonly found in patients aged 60 and older.4

"MDS is a devastating diagnosis - not only does it have the potential to greatly impact patients' quality of life, but 30 percent of patients will also progress to AML," said Jalaja Potluri, executive medical director, oncology, AbbVie. "This Breakthrough Therapy Designation underscores the need for more treatment options for these patients and the utility of venetoclax to potentially treat different forms of blood cancer."  

This designation is supported by data from the Phase 1b M15-531 study. In addition to the Phase Ib M15-531 study, venetoclax is being investigated in combination with azacitidine for the treatment of MDS in the Phase Ib M15-522 study in patients with relapsed or refractory disease, and the Phase 3 randomized VERONA study in patients with newly diagnosed higher-risk MDS.

VENCLEXTA is being developed by AbbVie and Roche. It is jointly commercialized by AbbVie and Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, in the U.S. and by AbbVie outside of the U.S.

About VENCLEXTA® (venetoclax)

VENCLEXTA®/VENCLYXTO® (venetoclax) is a first-in-class medicine that selectively binds and inhibits the B-cell lymphoma-2 (BCL-2) protein. In some blood cancers, BCL-2 prevents cancer cells from undergoing their natural death or self-destruction process, called apoptosis. VENCLXEXTA/VENCLYXTO targets the BCL-2 protein and works to help restore the process of apoptosis.

VENCLEXTA/VENCLYXTO is being developed by AbbVie and Roche. It is jointly commercialized by AbbVie and Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, in the U.S. and by AbbVie outside of the U.S. Together, the companies are committed to BCL-2 research and to studying venetoclax in clinical trials across several blood cancers. Venetoclax is approved in more than 80 countries, including the U.S.

Uses of VENCLEXTA® (venetoclax) in US

VENCLEXTA is a prescription medicine used:

  • to treat adults with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) or small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL).
  • in combination with azacitidine, or decitabine, or low-dose cytarabine to treat adults with newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia (AML) who:
  • are 75 years of age or older, or
  • have other medical conditions that prevent the use of standard chemotherapy.

It is not known if VENCLEXTA is safe and effective in children. 

Important VENCLEXTA® (venetoclax) US Safety Information

US VENCLEXTA® Important Safety Information 

What is the most important information I should know about VENCLEXTA? 

VENCLEXTA can cause serious side effects, including: 

Tumor lysis syndrome (TLS). TLS is caused by the fast breakdown of cancer cells. TLS can cause kidney failure, the need for dialysis treatment, and may lead to death. Your healthcare provider will do tests to check your risk of getting TLS before you start taking VENCLEXTA. You will receive other medicines before starting and during treatment with VENCLEXTA to help reduce your risk of TLS. You may also need to receive intravenous (IV) fluids into your vein. Your healthcare provider will do blood tests to check for TLS when you first start treatment and during treatment with VENCLEXTA. It is important to keep your appointments for blood tests. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any symptoms of TLS during treatment with VENCLEXTA, including fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, confusion, shortness of breath, seizures, irregular heartbeat, dark or cloudy urine, unusual tiredness, or muscle or joint pain. 

Drink plenty of water during treatment with VENCLEXTA to help reduce your risk of getting TLS. 

Drink 6 to 8 glasses (about 56 ounces total) of water each day, starting 2 days before your first dose, on the day of your first dose of VENCLEXTA, and each time your dose is increased. 

Your healthcare provider may delay, decrease your dose, or stop treatment with VENCLEXTA if you have side effects. When restarting VENCLEXTA after stopping for 1 week or longer, your healthcare provider may again check for your risk of TLS and change your dose. 

Who should not take VENCLEXTA? 

Certain medicines must not be taken when you first start taking VENCLEXTA and while your dose is being slowly increased because of the risk of increased TLS. 

  • Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. VENCLEXTA and other medicines may affect each other causing serious side effects.
  • Do not start new medicines during treatment with VENCLEXTA without first talking with your healthcare provider.

Before taking VENCLEXTA, tell your healthcare provider about all of your medical conditions, including if you: 

  • have kidney or liver problems.
  • have problems with your body salts or electrolytes, such as potassium, phosphorus, or calcium.
  • have a history of high uric acid levels in your blood or gout.
  • are scheduled to receive a vaccine. You should not receive a "live vaccine" before, during, or after treatment with VENCLEXTA, until your healthcare provider tells you it is okay. If you are not sure about the type of immunization or vaccine, ask your healthcare provider. These vaccines may not be safe or may not work as well during treatment with VENCLEXTA.
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. VENCLEXTA may harm your unborn baby. If you are able to become pregnant, your healthcare provider should do a pregnancy test before you start treatment with VENCLEXTA, and you should use effective birth control during treatment and for at least 30 days after the last dose of VENCLEXTA. If you become pregnant or think you are pregnant, tell your healthcare provider right away.
  • are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if VENCLEXTA passes into your breast milk. Do not breastfeed during treatment with VENCLEXTA and for 1 week after the last dose.

What should I avoid while taking VENCLEXTA? 

You should not drink grapefruit juice or eat grapefruit, Seville oranges (often used in marmalades), or starfruit while you are taking VENCLEXTA. These products may increase the amount of VENCLEXTA in your blood. 

What are the possible side effects of VENCLEXTA? 

VENCLEXTA can cause serious side effects, including: 

  • Low white blood cell counts (neutropenia). Low white blood cell counts are common with VENCLEXTA, but can also be severe. Your healthcare provider will do blood tests to check your blood counts during treatment with VENCLEXTA and may pause dosing.
  • Infections. Death and serious infections such as pneumonia and blood infection (sepsis) have happened during treatment with VENCLEXTA. Your healthcare provider will closely monitor and treat you right away if you have a fever or any signs of infection during treatment with VENCLEXTA.

Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have a fever or any signs of an infection during treatment with VENCLEXTA. 

The most common side effects of VENCLEXTA when used in combination with obinutuzumab or rituximab or alone in people with CLL or SLL include low white blood cell counts; low platelet counts; low red blood cell counts; diarrhea; nausea; upper respiratory tract infection; cough; muscle and joint pain; tiredness; and swelling of your arms, legs, hands, and feet. 

The most common side effects of VENCLEXTA in combination with azacitidine or decitabine or low-dose cytarabine in people with AML include nausea; diarrhea; low platelet count; constipation; low white blood cell count; fever with low white blood cell count; tiredness; vomiting; swelling of arms, legs, hands, or feet; fever; infection in lungs; shortness of breath; bleeding; low red blood cell count; rash; stomach (abdominal) pain; infection in your blood; muscle and joint pain; dizziness; cough; sore throat; and low blood pressure. 

VENCLEXTA may cause fertility problems in males. This may affect your ability to father a child. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have concerns about fertility.  

These are not all the possible side effects of VENCLEXTA. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. 

You are encouraged to report side effects of prescription drug to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088. 

If you cannot afford your medication, contact genentech-access.com/patient/brands/venclexta for assistance. 

The full U.S. prescribing information, including Medication Guide, for VENCLEXTA® can be found here.  

About AbbVie in Oncology

At AbbVie, we are committed to transforming standards of care for multiple blood cancers while advancing a dynamic pipeline of investigational therapies across a range of cancer types. Our dedicated and experienced team joins forces with innovative partners to accelerate the delivery of potentially breakthrough medicines. We are evaluating more than 20 investigational medicines in over 300 clinical trials across some of the world's most widespread and debilitating cancers. As we work to have a remarkable impact on people's lives, we are committed to exploring solutions to help patients obtain access to our cancer medicines. For more information, please visit http://www.abbvie.com/oncology.

About AbbVie

AbbVie's mission is to discover and deliver innovative medicines that solve serious health issues today and address the medical challenges of tomorrow. We strive to have a remarkable impact on people's lives across several key therapeutic areas: immunology, oncology, neuroscience, eye care, virology, women's health and gastroenterology, in addition to products and services across its Allergan Aesthetics portfolio. For more information about AbbVie, please visit us at www.abbvie.com. Follow @abbvie on TwitterFacebookInstagramYouTube and LinkedIn.

Forward-Looking Statements

Some statements in this news release are, or may be considered, 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, failure to realize the expected benefits from AbbVie's acquisition of Allergan plc ("Allergan"), failure to promptly and effectively integrate Allergan's businesses, competition from other products, challenges to intellectual property, difficulties inherent in the research and development process, adverse litigation or government action, changes to laws and regulations applicable to our industry and the impact of public health outbreaks, epidemics or pandemics, such as COVID-19. 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," of AbbVie's 2020 Annual Report on Form 10-K, which has been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, as updated by its subsequent Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q. 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. 







1 U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Breakthrough Therapy. https://www.fda.gov/patients/fast-track-breakthrough-therapy-accelerated-approval-priority-review/breakthrough-therapy. Accessed July 19, 2021.

2 MDS Foundation. What is MDS?. https://www.mds-foundation.org/what-is-mds/. Accessed July 14, 2021.

3 Cancer.Net. Myelodysplastic Syndromes – MDS: Statistics. https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/myelodysplastic-syndromes-mds/statistics#:~:text=Approximately%2010%2C000%20people%20in%20the,year%20is%20likely%20to%20increase. Accessed July 19, 2021.

4 American Cancer Society. What are Myelodysplastic Syndromes?. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/myelodysplastic-syndrome/about/what-is-mds.html.  Accessed July 14, 2021.

 

SOURCE AbbVie

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