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FDA approves Rituxan for leukaemia


Genentech’s blockbuster blood cancer drug Rituxan has been approved for a new use by the US Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA said Genentech, the biotech unit of Swiss drugmaker Roche Group, can market Rituxan for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, or CLL for short. The second-most common leukaemia in adults, Rituxan is already approved for that condition in Europe.

The slow-growing cancer causes bone marrow to make faulty white blood cells that do not fight infection well.

Rituxan is to be given with two other chemotherapy drugs, both for patients starting treatment and for those who have not responded to other cancer drugs.

Rituxan, sold in some other countries under as MabThera, already is approved for several other uses, including treating non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. A biologic drug produced in living cells, it binds to cancer cells to attract the patient’s own immune cells.

Copyright Press Association 2010

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