Relationship between venetoclax exposure, rituximab coadministration, and progression-free survival in patients with relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia: demonstration of synergy.
Venetoclax is indicated at a dosage of 400 mg daily (QD) for the treatment of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) with 17p deletion who have received at least 1 prior therapy. Ongoing trials are evaluating venetoclax in combination with CD20 targeting monoclonal antibodies, such as rituximab. The objective of this research was to characterize the relationship between venetoclax exposures and progression-free survival (PFS) and to evaluate the effect of rituximab coadministration on PFS in patients with relapsed or refractory (R/R) CLL/small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL). A total of 323 patients from 3 clinical studies of venetoclax, with and without rituximab coadministration, were pooled for the analyses. A time-variant relative risk survival model was used to relate plasma venetoclax concentrations and rituximab administration to PFS. Demographics and baseline disease characteristics were evaluated for their effect on PFS. A concentration-dependent effect of venetoclax on PFS and a prolonged synergistic effect of 6 cycles of concomitant rituximab were identified. The 17p deletion chromosomal aberration was not identified to affect the PFS of patients treated with venetoclax. A venetoclax dose of 400 mg daily QD was estimated to result in a substantial median PFS of 1.8 years (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.7-2.1), whereas the addition of 6 cycles of rituximab was estimated to increase the median PFS to 3.9 years (95% CI, 2.8-5.6). The analysis demonstrates a concentration-dependent effect of venetoclax on PFS and also a synergistic effect with rituximab. Combining venetoclax with the CD20 targeting monoclonal antibody rituximab in R/R CLL/SLL patients provides substantial synergistic benefit compared with increasing the venetoclax monotherapy dose.