New Scottish approval for lymph gland cancer treatment that halves the risk of death

Scottish Medicines Consortium issues guidance on maintenance treatment for follicular non-Hodgkin lymphoma

12th December 2006 –The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) today ruled that patients in Scotland with relapsed or refractory follicular non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) that respond to induction chemotherapy with or without MabThera (rituximab) should gain access to a drug treatment regimen1 that allows them to reduce their risk of death by 48%.2  Maintenance treatment with rituximab is a new approach to managing NHL, allowing a particular type of patient to be treated whilst their cancer has gone into remission. 

Following conventional chemotherapy, data have shown that when treated with MabThera (rituximab) maintenance therapy, a patient’s average time of living disease free is significantly extended to 51.5 months compared to just 14.9 months when not treated during this remission period (p<0.0001).2

Dr David Meiklejohn, Consultant Haematologist and Clinical Leader at the Ninewells Hospital, Dundee commented “Maintenance therapy represents the most significant improvement in survival for people with follicular NHL that we have seen in the last 30 years.  The SMC maintenance guidance is hugely important for people living with follicular NHL in Scotland and means that we can reduce the risk of death and more than treble progression free survival in patients living with this disease”.

Rituximab has many characteristics essential for a maintenance therapy: it is both effective and well tolerated, and can maintain active concentrations in the blood with intervals of several months between administrations.  This enables most patients to continue with their everyday life whilst on maintenance therapy without having to undergo repeated courses of chemotherapy to treat relapses. 

Rituximab, a monoclonal antibody that specifically targets and binds to the B-cells that cause lymphoma, recruiting the body’s own defences to kill them3. It offers the NHS excellent value for money4.

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For further information, or to arrange interviews with a leading expert in NHL, please contact:

Red Door Communications
Liz Adams
Telephone: 020 8392 8040


Olivia Garbutt
Telephone: 01707 367842
Notes to Editors:

About Roche UK

Roche aims to improve people's health and quality of life with innovative products and services for the early detection, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease. Part of one of the world’s leading healthcare groups, Roche in the UK employs nearly 2,000 people in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. Globally Roche is the leader in diagnostics, the leading supplier of medicines for cancer and transplantation and a market leader in virology. Find out more at

About rituximab

MabThera is currently approved for first-line use for patients with follicular NHL in combination with the CVP chemotherapy regimen and as a monotherapy for follicular NHL.  It is also approved for use as maintenance treatment in patients with relapsed or refractory follicular lymphoma and in combination with CHOP chemotherapy for patients with diffuse large B-cell NHL 

For further information about rituximab, please refer to the SmPC which is available on our website:


1  Scottish Medicines Consortium.  Rituximab (MabThera) Maintenance Therapy.  Summary of Advice.  December 2006
2  Van Oers MH et al.  Rituximab maintenance improves clinical outcome of relapsed/resistant follicular non Hodgkin’s lymphoma, both in patients with and without rituximab during induction: results of a prospective radomized phase III intergroup trial.  Blood 2006; prepublished online ( July 27 2006
3 Solal-Celigny P et al.  MabThera (Rituximab) Plus CVP Chemotherapy for First-Line Treatment of Stage III/IV Follicular Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL): Confirmed Efficacy with longer Follow-Up. Abstract 350 ASH 2005
4  NICE.  Rituximab for the treatment of follicular lymphoma.  NICE STA.  August 2006

Liz Adams
Senior Account Manager
red door communications
t: +44 (0) 20 8392 8040
f: +44 (0) 20 8392 8050
d:+44 (0) 20 8392 8092

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