Pharmacyclics Inc. (PCYC:US)’s drug for chronic lymphocytic leukemia which was released this year, Imbruvica, aided the patients to live longer without the disease getting aggravated as compared to the GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s treatment for the blood cancer.

According to a research published in New England Journal of Medicine and presented today at the American Society of Clinical Oncology, 391 subjects whose leukemia relapsed and were given Imbruvica or Glaxo’s Arzera and their prognosis were compared. After six month the 88 % of the patients who were still taking the drug Imbruvica hadn’t seen their cancer worsen. On the other hand 65% of the patients on Glaxo’s Arzerra, said that they did not experience a worsening of their condition.

It could signal a big push for Imbruvica which was approved by US FDA last year for treating Mantle Cell Lymphoma. The drug, also known as ibrutinib, is expected to sell $3.37 billion by 2018 (PCYC: US), according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The latest results could influence more doctors to prescribe the drug which has seen weak demand since its launch,.

John Byrd, director of hematology at Ohio State University in Columbus, said in an interview, “This is the first randomized study that demonstrates ibrutinib improves progression free survival and overall survival compared to a standard therapy. It establishes ibrutinib as the most appropriate and probably the best therapy.”

Every year 16000 new patients of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia are added in the US. Of this 4600 people will succumb to this disease. CLL as it is known in short is a condition where the white blood cells in the bone marrow turn malignant, multiplying in numbers and invading the blood. It progresses slowly and often affects the elderly making treatment with aggressive chemotherapy even more difficult due to intolerance to side effects in old age.

Imbruvica scored over Arzerra in other levels also. After 12 months 90% of the Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia on Imbruvica was alive as compared to 81 percent of those on Arzerra. 42.6 percent of patients taking Imbruvica showed a response as compared to 4.1 percent of those on Glaxo’s drug.

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