Venetoclax has been approved for the treatment of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) who have a 17p deletion and who have been treated with a least one prior therapy, the Food and Drug Administration has announced.

The drug will be marketed as Venclexta, and is indicated for daily use after detection of a 17p deletion is confirmed through the use of the FDA-approved companion diagnostic test, the Vysis CLL FISH probe kit. A 17p deletion occurs in about 10% of patients with untreated CLL and in about 20% of patients with relapsed CLL. Venetoclax targets the B-cell lymphoma 2 (BCL-2) protein, according to the FDA press release .

“Up to half of people whose CLL progressed have 17p deletion,” Dr. Sandra Horning, chief medical officer and head of Global Product Development for Genentech, said in a press release issued by the company. Venclexta will be marketed by AbbVie and Genentech USA. The Vysis CLL FISH probe kit is manufactured by Abbott Molecular.

“For certain patients with CLL who have not had favorable outcomes with other therapies, Venclexta may provide a new option,” Dr. Richard Pazdur , director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a press release issued by the FDA.

The approval was based on a clinical trial of 106 patients who had CLL and 17p deletions and who had received at least one prior therapy. Trial participants took oral venetoclax daily, beginning with a 20 mg dose that was increased over a 5-week period to 400 mg. A complete or partial remission of CLL occurred in 80% of trial participants. Data on venetoclax also was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology.

The most common side effects of venetoclax include neutropenia, diarrhea, nausea, anemia, upper respiratory tract infection, thrombocytopenia, and fatigue.

The FDA granted the Venclexta application breakthrough therapy designation, priority review status, and accelerated approval for this indication. Venclexta also received orphan drug designation.

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