New formulation can be co-administered with gastric acid-reducing agents
Tablet offers efficacy, safety and consistent dosing compared to current capsule
AstraZeneca’s new tablet formulation of CALQUENCE® (acalabrutinib) has been approved in the US for all current indications, including adult patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL) and for patients with relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), which is approved under accelerated approval based on overall response rate.
The approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was based on results from the ELEVATE-PLUS trials presented during the 63rd American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting & Exposition in December 2021.1
In the trials, results showed the CALQUENCE capsule and tablet formulations are bioequivalent, indicating the same efficacy and safety profile can be expected with the same dosing strength and schedule.1 The tablet can be taken with gastric acid-reducing agents, including proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), antacids and H2-receptor antagonists (H2RAs).1,2 The majority of observed adverse events (AEs) in these studies were mild with no new safety concerns identified.1
John C. Byrd, MD, Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Cincinnati, said: “Patients with blood cancers like chronic lymphocytic leukemia and mantle cell lymphoma are often older and may face multiple medical conditions that may need intervention, including acid reflux or peptic ulcer disease. The US approval of acalabrutinib in a tablet form enables co-administration of the acalabrutinib tablet alongside a proton pump inhibitor. This provides another option for some patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia and relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma, enabling more patients to potentially benefit from this treatment.”
Dave Fredrickson, Executive Vice President, Oncology Business Unit, AstraZeneca, said: “Today’s approval of the new CALQUENCE tablet formulation will offer physicians and patients increased flexibility when devising treatment plans for chronic lymphocytic leukemia and mantle cell lymphoma. This new option is a result of our focus on understanding the wants and needs of this community and providing patient-focused solutions for their treatment.”
CALQUENCE is also approved as a capsule formulation for the same indications as the tablet in the US and in many other countries worldwide.3 Indications may vary by market.
INDICATIONS AND USAGE
CALQUENCE is a Bruton tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor indicated for the treatment of adult patients with mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) who have received at least one prior therapy.
This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on overall response rate. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trials.
CALQUENCE is also indicated for the treatment of adult patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) or small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL).
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION ABOUT CALQUENCE® (acalabrutinib) tablets
Serious and Opportunistic Infections
Fatal and serious infections, including opportunistic infections, have occurred in patients with hematologic malignancies treated with CALQUENCE.
Serious or Grade 3 or higher infections (bacterial, viral, or fungal) occurred in 19% of 1029 patients exposed to CALQUENCE in clinical trials, most often due to respiratory tract infections (11% of all patients, including pneumonia in 6%). These infections predominantly occurred in the absence of Grade 3 or 4 neutropenia, with neutropenic infection reported in 1.9% of all patients. Opportunistic infections in recipients of CALQUENCE have included, but are not limited to, hepatitis B virus reactivation, fungal pneumonia, Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia, Epstein-Barr virus reactivation, cytomegalovirus, and progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). Consider prophylaxis in patients who are at increased risk for opportunistic infections. Monitor patients for signs and symptoms of infection and treat promptly.
Fatal and serious hemorrhagic events have occurred in patients with hematologic malignancies treated with CALQUENCE. Major hemorrhage (serious or Grade 3 or higher bleeding or any central nervous system bleeding) occurred in 3.0% of patients, with fatal hemorrhage occurring in 0.1% of 1029 patients exposed to CALQUENCE in clinical trials. Bleeding events of any grade, excluding bruising and petechiae, occurred in 22% of patients.
Use of antithrombotic agents concomitantly with CALQUENCE may further increase the risk of hemorrhage. In clinical trials, major hemorrhage occurred in 2.7% of patients taking CALQUENCE without antithrombotic agents and 3.6% of patients taking CALQUENCE with antithrombotic agents. Consider the risks and benefits of antithrombotic agents when co-administered with CALQUENCE. Monitor patients for signs of bleeding.
Consider the benefit-risk of withholding CALQUENCE for 3-7 days pre- and post-surgery depending upon the type of surgery and the risk of bleeding.
Grade 3 or 4 cytopenias, including neutropenia (23%), anemia (8%), thrombocytopenia (7%), and lymphopenia (7%), developed in patients with hematologic malignancies treated with CALQUENCE. Grade 4 neutropenia developed in 12% of patients. Monitor complete blood counts regularly during treatment. Interrupt treatment, reduce the dose, or discontinue treatment as warranted.
Second Primary Malignancies
Second primary malignancies, including skin cancers and other solid tumors, occurred in 12% of 1029 patients exposed to CALQUENCE in clinical trials. The most frequent second primary malignancy was skin cancer, reported in 6% of patients. Monitor patients for skin cancers and advise protection from sun exposure.
Atrial Fibrillation and Flutter
Grade 3 atrial fibrillation or flutter occurred in 1.1% of 1029 patients treated with CALQUENCE, with all grades of atrial fibrillation or flutter reported in 4.1% of all patients. The risk may be increased in patients with cardiac risk factors, hypertension, previous arrhythmias, and acute infection. Monitor for symptoms of arrhythmia (eg, palpitations, dizziness, syncope, dyspnea) and manage as appropriate.
The most common adverse reactions (≥20%) of any grade in patients with relapsed or refractory MCL were anemia,* thrombocytopenia,* headache (39%), neutropenia,* diarrhea (31%), fatigue (28%), myalgia (21%), and bruising (21%). The most common Grade ≥3 non-hematological adverse reaction (reported in at least 2% of patients) was diarrhea (3.2%).
*Treatment-emergent decreases (all grades) of hemoglobin (46%), platelets (44%), and neutrophils (36%) were based on laboratory measurements and adverse reactions.
Dose reductions or discontinuations due to any adverse reaction were reported in 1.6% and 6.5% of patients, respectively. Increases in creatinine to 1.5 to 3 times the upper limit of normal (ULN) occurred in 4.8% of patients.
The most common adverse reactions (≥30%) of any grade in patients with CLL were anemia,* neutropenia,* thrombocytopenia,* headache, upper respiratory tract infection, and diarrhea.
*Treatment-emergent decreases (all grades) of hemoglobin, platelets, and neutrophils were based on laboratory measurements and adverse reactions.
In patients with previously untreated CLL exposed to CALQUENCE, fatal adverse reactions that occurred in the absence of disease progression and with onset within 30 days of the last study treatment were reported in 2% for each treatment arm, most often from infection. Serious adverse reactions were reported in 39% of patients in the CALQUENCE plus obinutuzumab arm and 32% in the CALQUENCE monotherapy arm, most often due to events of pneumonia (7% and 2.8%, respectively).
Adverse reactions led to CALQUENCE dose reduction in 7% and 4% of patients in the CALQUENCE plus obinutuzumab arm (N=178) and CALQUENCE monotherapy arm (N=179), respectively. Adverse events led to discontinuation in 11% and 10% of patients, respectively. Increases in creatinine to 1.5 to 3 times ULN occurred in 3.9% and 2.8% of patients in the CALQUENCE combination arm and monotherapy arm, respectively.
In patients with relapsed/refractory CLL exposed to CALQUENCE, serious adverse reactions occurred in 29% of patients. Serious adverse reactions in >5% of patients who received CALQUENCE included lower respiratory tract infection (6%). Fatal adverse reactions within 30 days of the last dose of CALQUENCE occurred in 2.6% of patients, including from second primary malignancies and infection.
Adverse reactions led to CALQUENCE dose reduction in 3.9% of patients (N=154), dose interruptions in 34% of patients, most often due to respiratory tract infections followed by neutropenia, and discontinuation in 10% of patients, most frequently due to second primary malignancies followed by infection. Increases in creatinine to 1.5 to 3 times ULN occurred in 1.3% of patients who received CALQUENCE.
Strong CYP3A Inhibitors: Avoid co-administration of CALQUENCE with a strong CYP3A inhibitor. If these inhibitors will be used short-term, interrupt CALQUENCE. After discontinuation of strong CYP3A inhibitor for at least 24 hours, resume previous dosage of CALQUENCE.
Moderate CYP3A Inhibitors: Reduce the dosage of CALQUENCE to 100 mg once daily when co-administered with a moderate CYP3A inhibitor.
Strong CYP3A Inducers: Avoid co-administration of CALQUENCE with a strong CYP3A inducer. If co-administration is unavoidable, increase the dosage of CALQUENCE to 200 mg approximately every 12 hours.
Based on findings in animals, CALQUENCE may cause fetal harm and dystocia when administered to a pregnant woman. There are no available data in pregnant women to inform the drug-associated risk. Advise pregnant women of the potential risk to a fetus.
Pregnancy testing is recommended for females of reproductive potential prior to initiating CALQUENCE therapy. Advise female patients of reproductive potential to use effective contraception during treatment with CALQUENCE and for 1 week following the last dose of CALQUENCE.
It is not known if CALQUENCE is present in human milk. Advise lactating women not to breastfeed while taking CALQUENCE and for 2 weeks after the last dose.
Avoid use of CALQUENCE in patients with severe hepatic impairment (Child-Pugh class C). No dosage adjustment of CALQUENCE is recommended in patients with mild (Child-Pugh class A) or moderate (Child-Pugh class B) hepatic impairment.
CLL is the most prevalent type of leukemia in adults, with over 100,000 new cases globally in 2019 and an estimated 20,160 new cases in the US in 2022.4,5 Although some people with CLL may not experience any symptoms at diagnosis, others may experience symptoms, such as weakness, fatigue, weight loss, chills, fever, night sweats, swollen lymph nodes and abdominal pain.6
In CLL, there is an accumulation of abnormal lymphocytes within the bone marrow. As the number of abnormal cells increases, there is less room within the marrow for the production of normal white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. This could result in anemia, infection and bleeding.7 B-cell receptor signaling through BTK is one of the essential growth pathways for CLL.
MCL is an uncommon subtype of B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma.8 MCL comprises about 3-6% of non-Hodgkin lymphomas, with an annual incidence of 0.5 per 100,000 population in Western countries; in the US, it is estimated that approximately 4,000 new cases of MCL are diagnosed each year.8,9 While MCL patients initially respond to treatment, patients do tend to relapse.8
ELEVATE-PLUS is comprised of three Phase I, open-label, single-dose, cross-over studies conducted in 116 healthy subjects. The trials established bioequivalence between acalabrutinib tablets (100 mg) and acalabrutinib (100 mg) capsules, evaluated the PPI effect of acalabrutinib tablets administered in the presence versus absence of PPI rabeprazole and investigated the effect of food by comparing acalabrutinib tablets administered with a high-fat diet versus fasted.1
CALQUENCE (acalabrutinib) is a next-generation, selective inhibitor of Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK). CALQUENCE binds covalently to BTK, thereby inhibiting its activity.3,10 In B cells, BTK signaling results in activation of pathways necessary for B-cell proliferation, trafficking, chemotaxis and adhesion.3
CALQUENCE is available for prescribing in capsule and tablet formulations in the US. CALQUENCE tablets and capsules are approved in the US for the treatment of CLL and SLL, and for the treatment of adult patients with MCL who have received at least one prior therapy.2,3 Capsules have restrictions in relation to use with gastric acid-reducing agents. The tablets are not licensed in the European Union.
CALQUENCE capsules are approved for CLL in the EU and many other countries worldwide and approved in Japan for relapsed or refractory CLL and SLL. A Phase I trial is currently underway in Japan for the treatment of front-line CLL.
In the US and several other countries, CALQUENCE capsules are also approved for the treatment of adult patients with MCL who have received at least one prior therapy. The US MCL indication is approved under accelerated approval based on overall response rate. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trials. CALQUENCE is not currently approved for the treatment of MCL in Europe or Japan.
As part of an extensive clinical development program, AstraZeneca and Acerta Pharma are currently evaluating CALQUENCE in more than 20 company-sponsored clinical trials. CALQUENCE is being evaluated for the treatment of multiple B-cell blood cancers, including CLL, MCL, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia, follicular lymphoma and marginal zone lymphoma.
AstraZeneca in hematology
AstraZeneca is pushing the boundaries of science to redefine care in hematology. We have expanded our commitment to patients with hematologic conditions, not only in oncology but also in rare diseases with the acquisition of Alexion, allowing us to reach more patients with high unmet needs. By applying our deep understanding of blood cancers, leveraging our strength in solid tumor oncology and delivering on Alexion’s pioneering legacy in complement science to provide innovative medicines for rare diseases, we are pursuing the end-to-end development of novel therapies designed to target underlying drivers of disease.
Our goal is to help transform the lives of patients living with malignant, rare and other related hematologic diseases, shaped by insights from patients, caregivers and physicians to have the most meaningful impact.
AstraZeneca in oncology
AstraZeneca is leading a revolution in oncology with the ambition to provide cures for cancer in every form, following the science to understand cancer and all its complexities to discover, develop and deliver life-changing medicines to patients.
The Company’s focus is on some of the most challenging cancers. It is through persistent innovation that AstraZeneca has built one of the most diverse portfolios and pipelines in the industry, with the potential to catalyze changes in the practice of medicine and transform the patient experience.
AstraZeneca has the vision to redefine cancer care and, one day, eliminate cancer as a cause of death.
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- Sharma S, Pepin X, Burri H, et al. New acalabrutinib formulation enables co-administration with proton pump inhibitors and dosing in patients unable to swallow capsules (ELEVATE-PLUS). [abstract and poster]. Poster presented at: 63rd American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting and Exposition; December 11-14, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia. Abs 4365.
- CALQUENCE® (acalabrutinib) tablets [prescribing information]. Wilmington, DE; AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP; 2022.
- CALQUENCE® (acalabrutinib) capsules [prescribing information]. Wilmington, DE; AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP; 2019.
- National Cancer Institute (NCI). Cancer stat facts: leukemia — chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). NCI website. Accessed August 2022. https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/clyl.html
- Yao Y, Lin X, Li F, et al. The global burden and attributable risk factors of chronic lymphocytic leukemia in 204 countries and territories from 1990 to 2019: analysis based on the global burden of disease study 2019. Biomed Eng Online. 2022;1:4. doi: 10.1186/s12938-021-00973-6
- American Cancer Society (ACS). Signs and symptoms of chronic lymphocytic leukemia. ACS website. Accessed August 2022. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/chronic-lymphocytic-leukemia/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-symptoms.html
- National Cancer Institute. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia treatment (PDQ®)–Patient version. NCI website. Accessed August 2022. https://www.cancer.gov/types/leukemia/patient/cll-treatment-pdq
- Cheah CY, Seymour JF and Wang ML. Mantle cell lymphoma. J Clin Oncol. 2016;34(11):1256-1269. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2015.63.5904
- MD Anderson Cancer Center. What to know about mantle cell lymphoma. MD Anderson Cancer Center website. Accessed August 2022. https://www.mdanderson.org/cancerwise/what-to-know-about-mantle-cell-lymphoma-symptoms-diagnosis-and-treatment.h00-159385101.html
- Wu J, Zhang M and Liu D. Acalabrutinib (ACP-196): a selective second-generation BTK inhibitor. J Hematol Oncol. 2016;9(21).
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