Patients with one of the most common forms of blood cancer4 can now benefit from a new injection. MabThera subcutaneous (SC), which is given to patients just beneath the skin, can be administered in approximately five minutes, compared to the current two and a half hour intravenous (IV) infusion.2 This faster way of delivering MabThera will now be available to around 2,400 patients per year with follicular lymphoma (FL), a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).1,4,5
Dr. Andrew Davies, Consultant in Medical Oncology at University Hospital Southampton, said: "The number of new cancer cases in the UK is expected to rise by 45% between 2007 and 2030. This increasing demand for chemotherapy units places resources under tremendous pressure. The SC form of MabThera is an innovative new formulation that can help us make more efficient use of resources and improves the experience of our patients. These patients would now expect to gain over two hours from each visit to the hospital for their anti-cancer therapy and up to 43 hours over the course of their treatment. This will be liberating news for thousands of patients who will have more valuable time to spend with their family and friends."
In addition to patients benefitting, the NHS could save more than £2.5 million every year with the national use of MabThera SC, due to savings in national tariff and drug costs;1 as well as through time saved by preparing and administrating the treatment, and reduced drug wastage compared to IV.6 The speedier form of delivery could help to relieve pressure on today's over-stretched chemotherapy units, increasing NHS capacity to treat patients.3,6
Jonathan Pearce, Chief Executive of Lymphoma Association commented: "We want everyone affected by lymphoma to have the best possible treatment and care. Rituximab is a key part of effective treatment strategies for lymphoma and this innovative new injection should make it significantly easier and more convenient for patients who need it."
MabThera SC has been granted a licence for use in the UK based on data from the SABRINA study,7 which showed that switching from IV to SC administration provides comparable efficacy of MabThera in patients with FL.2,8 Similar overall response rates (ORR) and complete response (CR) rates supported the conclusion of comparable efficacy (ORR 84.4% IV vs 83.4% SC, CR 31.7% IV vs 32.7% SC).8 The overall safety profile for MabThera SC was as would be expected for IV administration, with no new or unexpected adverse events.8 The most common adverse events were administration-related reactions (47% SC and 33% IV). In the study, serious adverse events reported with both MabThera SC and IV included infection and febrile neutropenia.8