According to a recent study, Pharmacyclics' lymphocytic leukemia drug Imbruvica is more likely to prevent a patient's disease from worsening compared to it's competitor Arzerra by GlaxoSmithKline. The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and analyzed 391 patients whose blood cancer had relapsed, and the results were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago this past weekend. After six months of treatment 88 percent still taking Imbruvica had not seen their cancer relapse compared to Arzerra's 65 percent.
According to Drew Armstrong of Bloomberg, 16,000 new cases of lymphocytic leukemia will be diagnosed in 2014 and over 25 percent or roughly 4,600 of these people will die from the disease. Lymphocytic leukemia causes the white blood cells in bone marrow to turn cancerous, which in turn multiply rapidly before entering the bloodstream. John Byrd, director of hematology at Ohio State University in Columbus stated that “this is the first randomized study that demonstrates ibrutinib improves progression free survival and overall survival compared to a standard therapy."
Imbruvica is taken in pill form rather than intravenously which allows patients to stay on the drug longer but that also results in more side effects. Physicians around the world have touted these new findings and believe it will significantly change the way lymphocytic leukemia is treated. The drug is projected to sell $3.37 billion by 2018.