Roche and Genentech’s MabThera/Rituxan (rituximab) doubles the time spent in disease remission for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients when used as a maintenance therapy, according to new data presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting this week.

Patients with either indolent or aggressive NHL were enrolled into the trial and initially treated with MabThera plus chemotherapy. Once in remission, patients were randomized to receive either no further treatment or maintenance therapy with MabThera. Results showed that patients who continued to receive Roche and Genentech’s drug experienced remission times of more than three years, versus 19 months for those solely being observed.

Professor Wolfgang Hiddemann, lead investigator of the trial stated: “The data show that rituximab is not only effective in helping patients to achieve remission, but can actually help extend remission when used as a maintenance therapy. This is the first study demonstrating a clear benefit of rituximab maintenance following a rituximab-containing induction regimen.”

MabThera is one of the stars of Roche’s pipeline, with sales up 24% during the first quarter of 2005 to almost 1 billion Swiss francs [[19/04/05b]].