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EC approval halves blood cancer relapse

Targeted cancer therapy MabThera (rituximab) approved in the UK as an extended first-line treatment for follicular lymphoma
The European Commission (EC) has approved the extended use of Roche's targeted antibody MetaThera (rituximab) as "maintenance treatment"for people with follicular lymphoma (FL) who have responded to induction therapy. 
The EC's decision in favour of rituximab as first line maintenance treatment significantly expands the treatment options available to existing patients and offers newly-diagnosed patients an active treatment strategy. Prior to rituximab's approval, patients had to adopt a "watch and wait" approach. 
FL is marked by multiple relapses and progressively shorter periods of remission that are harder to achieve
By giving rituximab alone as maintenance therapy for two years following induction with immunochemotherapy, the risk of relapse after two years is halved, compared to stopping active treatment after initial induction therapy. Extended use of rituximab also reduces the likelihood of further chemotherapy without significantly impacting quality of life for two years by keeping the cancer at bay. 
The EC's approval was based on results from the phase III PRIMA trial, the largest ever trial investigating FL.

23rd November 2010


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