A rheumatoid arthritis drug called Rituxan, marketed by both Genentech and Biogen has been proven to be very effective when given to patients diagnosed with a type of leukemia.
The trial was conducted on patients whose leukemia had relapsed following previous treatment, and showed that those given Rituxan had a significantly reduced rate of disease progression than those patients not given the arthritis drug.
The study called REACH featured leukemia patients, some of which were given chemotherapy alone, others given chemo plus Rituxan.
“Patients with lymphocytic leukemia currently have few approved treatment options after the disease progresses following initial chemotherapy,” said Cecil Pickett, Biogen Idec’s president of research and development. “The REACH results are promising, and pending confirmation of the results by independent review, we look forward to submitting an application to the FDA for Rituxan’s potential approval in this indication.”
Rituxan is currently approved for treating rheumatoid arthritis and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Lymphocytic leukemia is a slowly progressing type of blood cancer that attacks the blood and bone marrow. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 15,000 new cases will be reported this year.