Investor Update

Basel, 28 August 2017

FDA grants Priority Review for Roche’s Gazyva in previously untreated follicular lymphoma

Roche (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY) announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accepted the company’s supplemental Biologics License Application (sBLA) and granted Priority Review for Gazyva® (obinutuzumab) in combination with chemotherapy followed by Gazyva alone for people with previously untreated follicular lymphoma, one of the most common blood cancers among adults. Follicular lymphoma, a slow-growing (indolent) form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, is incurable and characterized by cycles of remission and relapse.

“Follicular lymphoma becomes harder to treat each time it returns, and the goal of initial treatment is to prevent the cancer from progressing for as long as possible,” said Sandra Horning, M.D., chief medical officer and head of Global Product Development. “Based on the GALLIUM study, Gazyva-based treatment significantly improved progression-free survival over the current standard of care, and we are committed to bringing this potential new option to patients as soon as possible.”  

The sBLA is based on results of the GALLIUM study, which is the first Phase III study in previously untreated follicular lymphoma to show superior progression-free survival (PFS) over Rituxan® (rituximab)-based treatment, the current standard of care. Adverse events (AEs) with either Gazyva or Rituxan were consistent with those seen in previous studies. 

The FDA is expected to make a decision on approval under Priority Review by 23 December, 2017. Priority Review designation is granted to medicines that the FDA has determined to have the potential to provide significant improvements in the safety and effectiveness of the treatment, prevention or diagnosis of a serious disease. Additional submissions of the GALLIUM data to health authorities around the world are ongoing. 

About the GALLIUM study

GALLIUM (NCT01332968) is a global Phase III open-label, multicenter, randomized two-arm study examining the efficacy and safety of Gazyva plus chemotherapy followed by Gazyva alone for up to two years, as compared head-to-head against Rituxan plus chemotherapy followed by Rituxan alone for up to two years. Chemotherapies used were CHOP, CVP or bendamustine and were selected by each participating study site prior to beginning enrollment. GALLIUM included 1401 patients with previously untreated indolent non-Hodgkin lymphoma (iNHL), of which 1202 patients had follicular lymphoma. The primary endpoint of the study was investigator-assessed progression-free survival (PFS) in patients with follicular lymphoma, with secondary endpoints including PFS assessed by independent review committee (IRC) in patients with follicular lymphoma, PFS in the overall study population (iNHL), response rate (overall response, ORR; and complete response, CR), overall survival (OS) and safety. The study is being conducted in cooperation with the GLSG (Germany), the East German Study Group Hematology and Oncology (OSHO; Germany) and the NCRI (United Kingdom). Results after a follow-up period of 41.1 months showed:

  • Gazyva-based treatment reduced the risk of disease worsening or death (PFS, as assessed by investigator) by 32 percent compared to Rituxan-based treatment (HR=0.68; 95 percent CI 0.54-0.87; p=0.0016).
  • IRC-assessed PFS was consistent with investigator-assessed PFS. As assessed by IRC, Gazyva-based treatment reduced the risk of disease worsening or death by 28 percent compared to Rituxan-based treatment (HR=0.72; 95 percent CI 0.56-0.93; p=0.0018). Median PFS has not yet been reached in either treatment arm.
  • The most common Grade 3-5 AEs that occurred more often in the Gazyva arm compared to the Rituxan arm were low white blood cell count (neutropenia, 46.7 percent vs. 39.5 percent), infections (20.3 percent vs. 16.4 percent), infusion-related reactions (IRRs, 12.4 percent vs. 6.7 percent), low platelet count (thrombocytopenia, 6.1 percent vs. 2.7 percent), new tumors (second malignancies, 4.7 percent vs. 2.7 percent) and cardiac events (3.9 percent vs. 2.8 percent).

GALLIUM is the third positive Phase III study for Gazyva, following the CLL11 study in patients with previously untreated chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) and the GADOLIN study in patients with indolent (slow-growing) non-Hodgkin lymphoma whose disease progressed during or within six months of prior Rituxan-based therapy.

About Gazyva (obinutuzumab)

Gazyva is an engineered monoclonal antibody designed to attach to CD20, a protein expressed on certain B cells, but not on stem cells or plasma cells. Gazyva is designed to attack and destroy targeted B-cells both directly and together with the body's immune system.

Gazyva is marketed as Gazyvaro® in the EU and Switzerland. Gazyva/Gazyvaro is currently approved in more than 80 countries in combination with chlorambucil, for people with previously untreated chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), and in combination with bendamustine for people with certain types of previously treated follicular lymphoma. The approvals in CLL were based on the CLL11 study, showing significant improvements with Gazyva/Gazyvaro plus chlorambucil across multiple clinical endpoints, including PFS, overall response rate (ORR), complete response rate (CR), and minimal residual disease (MRD) when compared head-to-head with MabThera/Rituxan plus chlorambucil.

The approvals in certain types of previously treated follicular lymphoma were based on the phase III GADOLIN study, in people with follicular lymphoma who did not respond to or who progressed during or within six months of prior MabThera/Rituxan-based therapy, showing a significant improvement in PFS and overall survival (OS) with Gazyva/Gazyvaro-based therapy compared to bendamustine alone.

Additional combination studies investigating Gazyva/Gazyvaro with other approved or investigational medicines, including cancer immunotherapies and small molecule inhibitors, are underway across a range of blood cancers.

About Follicular Lymphoma

Follicular lymphoma is the most common indolent (slow-growing) form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), accounting for about one in five cases of NHL1. It is considered incurable and relapse is common. Every day, more than 50 people in Europe are diagnosed with this type of NHL2. It is estimated that more than 75,000 people are diagnosed with follicular lymphoma each year worldwide2.

About Roche in haematology 

For more than 20 years, Roche has been developing medicines that redefine treatment in haematology. Today, we are investing more than ever in our effort to bring innovative treatment options to people with diseases of the blood. In addition to approved medicines MabThera®/Rituxan® (rituximab), Gazyva®/Gazyvaro® (obinutuzumab), and VenclextaTM/VenclyxtoTM (venetoclax) in collaboration with AbbVie, Roche’s pipeline of investigational haematology medicines includes Tecentriq® (atezolizumab), an anti-CD79b antibody drug conjugate (polatuzumab vedotin/RG7596) and a small molecule antagonist of MDM2 (idasanutlin/RG7388). Roche’s dedication to developing novel molecules in haematology expands beyond malignancy, with the development of the investigational haemophilia A treatment emicizumab.

About Roche

Roche is a global pioneer in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics focused on advancing science to improve people’s lives. The combined strengths of pharmaceuticals and diagnostics under one roof have made Roche the leader in personalised healthcare – a strategy that aims to fit the right treatment to each patient in the best way possible.

Roche is the world’s largest biotech company, with truly differentiated medicines in oncology, immunology, infectious diseases, ophthalmology and diseases of the central nervous system. Roche is also the world leader in in vitro diagnostics and tissue-based cancer diagnostics, and a frontrunner in diabetes management.

Founded in 1896, Roche continues to search for better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases and make a sustainable contribution to society. The company also aims to improve patient access to medical innovations by working with all relevant stakeholders. Thirty medicines developed by Roche are included in the World Health Organization Model Lists of Essential Medicines, among them life-saving antibiotics, antimalarials and cancer medicines. Roche has been recognised as the Group Leader in sustainability within the Pharmaceuticals, Biotechnology & Life Sciences Industry eight years in a row by the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI).

The Roche Group, headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, is active in over 100 countries and in 2016 employed more than 94,000 people worldwide. In 2016, Roche invested CHF 9.9 billion in R&D and posted sales of CHF 50.6 billion. Genentech, in the United States, is a wholly owned member of the Roche Group. Roche is the majority shareholder in Chugai Pharmaceutical, Japan. For more information, please visit

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  1. Shankland KR, Armitage JO, Hancock BW: Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Lancet 380 (9844): 848-57, 2012.
  2. Ferlay J, et al. GLOBOCAN 2012 v1.0, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 11 [Internet]. Lyon, France:  International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2013. Available from: (accessed on 14/03/2016).