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BREAKING NEWS: Velcade sub-q approved

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BREAKING NEWS: Velcade sub-q approved

While it is a bit “after the fact,” it is exciting to learn this evening that the FDA has approved administering Velcade sub-q.

Let me share an email I received from company spokesperson, Peter Schrager, along with the official press release/announcement:


Hope all is well.

Today, Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company announced that the FDA has approved subcutaneous administration of VELCADE® across all approved indications. Ordinarily, an sNDA approval such as this would be an incremental advance, but the FDA’s decision now provides oncologists with the ability to deliver the proven survival power of VELCADE with greater tolerability, particularly reduced rates of peripheral neuropathy (PN); for patients with multiple myeloma (MM).

Subcutaneous administration allows a broader group of patients—including both first-line, treatment naïve patients as well those who are on “maintenance therapy,” to receive the potential benefits of VELCADE. A pioneer in MM treatment, Millennium continues to innovate and expand VELCADE’s leadership position as well as grow its oncology portfolio and pipeline. Millennium’s recent purchase of Intellikine and the advancement of two of its pipeline therapies into Phase 3 testing—MLN8237 and MLN9708—means the company’s momentum in cancer therapies will continue to accelerate.

Please let me know if you would like to speak with a company spokesperson or an external expert to learn more about this milestone for Millennium and the MM community. In the meantime, following is the Millennium press release for your review, if you wish to share with your readers. Thanks for your consideration.

Best, Peter Schrager

On behalf of Millennium

FDA Approves Subcutaneous Administration of VELCADE® In All Approved Indications

– Study met primary efficacy endpoint of non-inferiority between subcutaneous and intravenous administration –

– Study results also indicated overall similar safety profile with differences in incidence of peripheral neuropathy –

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., January 23, 2012Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company  with its parent company Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited (TSE:4502) today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a supplemental new drug application (sNDA) for VELCADE®(bortezomib), which updates the label to include the subcutaneous method of administration in all approved indications: multiple myeloma and mantle cell lymphoma after at least one prior therapy.

The approval was based on results from a randomized, phase 3, open-label, international, non-inferiority trial conducted in 222 bortezomib-naïve patients with relapsed multiple myeloma (MM). The primary (non-inferiority) objective of the trial was to demonstrate that single agent subcutaneous VELCADE retained at least 60 percent of the overall response rate (ORR) after 4 cycles relative to single agent intravenous VELCADE. Patients in both arms who did not obtain an optimal response (less than complete response (CR)) to therapy with VELCADE alone after 4 cycles were allowed to receive 20 mg of oral dexamethasone daily on the day of and after VELCADE administration. The secondary endpoints of the study included safety and tolerability, ORR and CR rate after 8 cycles, time to progression (TTP), progression free survival (PFS), and one-year overall survival (OS) of the two routes of administration.

Subcutaneous Administration

The pivotal study, published in the Lancet Oncology in May 2011, met its primary efficacy endpoint. Patients receiving VELCADE subcutaneously achieved a 4-cycle ORR of 43 percent and CR rate of 7 percent, while patients receiving VELCADE intravenously achieved an ORR of 42 percent and a CR rate of 8 percent.  The overall safety profile was similar between the two arms. However, differences were observed in the incidence of peripheral neuropathy (PN). In the subcutaneous arm of the trial, 6 percent of patients experienced PN of grade 3 or higher, compared with 16 percent in the intravenous arm. In the subcutaneous arm, 38 percent of patients experienced PN of all grades, compared with 53 percent of patients in the intravenous arm.

“Subcutaneous VELCADE is yet another advance in the management of patients with multiple myeloma or relapsed mantle cell lymphoma,” said Karen Ferrante, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Millennium. “The consistency in efficacy findings, and observed differences in peripheral neuropathy, allow physicians to tailor VELCADE treatment for their patients.”

“Considering this new subcutaneous route of administration for VELCADE is important for our patients, including those with poor vein access and those with pre-existing peripheral neuropathy or a high risk of developing peripheral neuropathy,” said Noopur Raje, M.D. director of the Center for Multiple Myeloma at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. “It’s important to have a range of treatment options to provide the best possible care to each individual patient.”

Additional study results at 8 cycles of treatment for subcutaneous and intravenous VELCADE, respectively, included:

  • ORR 53 percent and 51 percent
  • CR rate 11 percent and 12 percent

Additional study results at 11.8-month median follow-up for subcutaneous and intravenous VELCADE, respectively, included:

  • TTP 10.4 months and 9.4 months
  • PFS 10.2 months and 8.0 months
  • OS at 1 year 72.6 percent and 76.7 percent

Grade 3 and above adverse events with differences greater than 5 percent between routes of administration were:

  • Peripheral neuropathy, subcutaneous 6 percent, intravenous 16 percent
  • Thrombocytopenia, subcutaneous 13 percent, intravenous 19 percent
  • Neuralgia, subcutaneous 3 percent, intravenous 9 percent

New Contraindication for Intrathecal Administration

The updated label also includes a contraindication for intrathecal administration as fatal events have occurred with the inadvertent intrathecal administration of VELCADE.  VELCADE is for intravenous or subcutaneous use only.

VELCADE is co-developed by Millennium and Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies. Millennium is responsible for commercialization of VELCADE in the U.S.; Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies are responsible for commercialization in Europe and the rest of the world. Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited and Janssen Pharmaceutical K.K. co-promote VELCADE in Japan. VELCADE is approved in more than 90 countries and has been used to treat more than 300,000 patients worldwide.

There you have it.  I have been receiving my Velcade infusions this way for months.  And yes, the associated peripheral neuropathy does seem better than Velcade by IV–at least for me so far.

Great work by our friends at Millennium pushing this through so quickly.

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat