Rituximab for the treatment of relapsed or refractory stage III or IV follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

A Boland, A Bagust, J Hockenhull, H Davis, P Chu, R Dickson
Health Technology Assessment: HTA 2009, 13 Suppl 2: 41-8
This paper presents a summary of the evidence review group report into the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of rituximab for the treatment of relapsed or refractory stage III or IV follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), in accordance with the licensed indication, based upon the evidence submission from Roche Products Ltd to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) as part of the single technology appraisal (STA) process. The submitted clinical evidence included two randomised controlled trials [European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) and German Low Grade Lymphoma Study Group - Fludarabine, Cyclophosphamide and Mitoxantrone and (GLSG-FCM)] comparing the clinical effects of chemotherapy with or without rituximab in the induction of remission at first or second relapse and the clinical benefits of rituximab maintenance therapy versus the NHS's current clinical practice of observation for follicular lymphoma (FL) patients. Both trials showed that in patients with relapsed FL the addition of rituximab to chemotherapy induction treatment increased overall response rates. Furthermore, rituximab maintenance therapy increased the median length of remission when compared with observation only. Safety data from the two trials showed that while the majority of patients reported some adverse events, the number of patients withdrawing from treatment in the EORTC trial was low, with rates not being reported for the GLSG-FCM trial. The most commonly reported adverse events were blood/bone marrow toxicity, skin rashes and allergies. The ERG reran the manufacturer's economic model after altering several of the assumptions and parameter values in order to recalculate the cost-utility ratios, quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) and estimates of benefits. The manufacturer reported that maintenance therapy with rituximab was cost-effective compared with observation against commonly applied thresholds, with an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of 7721 pounds per QALY gained. The greatest clinical effectiveness is achieved by R-CHOP followed by rituximab maintenance (R-CHOP>R) and this treatment strategy had the greatest probability of being cost-effective for a QALY of approximately 18,000 pounds or greater. The guidance issued by NICE as a result of the STA states that in people with relapsed stage III or IV follicular NHL, rituximab is now an option in combination with chemotherapy to induce remission or alone as maintenance therapy during remission. Rituximab monotherapy is also an option for people with relapsed or refractory disease when all alternative treatment options have been exhausted.

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