William G. Wierda, MD, PhD, discusses the role of the rituximab biosimilar in the chronic lymphocytic leukemia treatment paradigm.
William G. Wierda, MD, PhD, professor, D. B. Lane Cancer Research Distinguished Professor, section chief of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, center medical director, Department of Leukemia, Division of Cancer Medicine, and executive medical director, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, discusses the role of the rituximab (Rituxan) biosimilar in the chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) treatment paradigm.
Biosimilars are significant from a phramacoeconomic perspective, but are only beneficial to patients with CLL when the use of a rituximab regimen is being considered, explains Wierda. Data from a randomized study comparing another CD20 antibody, obinutuzumab (Gazyva), in combination with chlorambucil versus chlorambucil plus rituximab versus chlorambucil monotherapy found that the obinutuzumab arm had a survival advantage over rituximab therapy, says Wierda.
Based on those data, obinutuzumab is superior to rituximab in the treatment of these patients, according to Wierda; however, a biosimilar product has not yet been developed for that CD20 antibody. Biosimilars are important, Wierda reiterates, and it may be relevant to select the rituximab biosimilar as an alternative to reference rituximab in some cases. However, obinutuzumab should be considered first and foremost in CLL treatment, despite the administration and toxicity challenges that exist with its use, he concludes.