BACKGROUND: In patients with chronic lymphoid leukemia (CLL) or small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL), a short duration of response to therapy or adverse cytogenetic abnormalities are associated with a poor outcome. We evaluated the efficacy of ibrutinib, a covalent inhibitor of Bruton's tyrosine kinase, in patients at risk for a poor outcome. METHODS: In this multicenter, open-label, phase 3 study, we randomly assigned 391 patients with relapsed or refractory CLL or SLL to receive daily ibrutinib or the anti-CD20 antibody ofatumumab. The primary end point was the duration of progression-free survival, with the duration of overall survival and the overall response rate as secondary end points. RESULTS: At a median follow-up of 9.4 months, ibrutinib significantly improved progressionfree survival; the median duration was not reached in the ibrutinib group (with a rate of progression-free survival of 88% at 6 months), as compared with a median of 8.1 months in the ofatumumab group (hazard ratio for progression or death in the ibrutinib group, 0.22; P<0.001). Ibrutinib also significantly improved overall survival (hazard ratio for death, 0.43; P = 0.005). At 12 months, the overall survival rate was 90% in the ibrutinib group and 81% in the ofatumumab group. The overall response rate was significantly higher in the ibrutinib group than in the ofatumumab group (42.6% vs. 4.1%, P<0.001). An additional 20% of ibrutinib-treated patients had a partial response with lymphocytosis. Similar effects were observed regardless of whether patients had a chromosome 17p13.1 deletion or resistance to purine analogues. The most frequent nonhematologic adverse events were diarrhea, fatigue, pyrexia, and nausea in the ibrutinib group and fatigue, infusion-related reactions, and cough in the ofatumumab group. CONCLUSIONS: Ibrutinib, as compared with ofatumumab, significantly improved progression-free survival, overall survival, and response rate among patients with previously treated CLL or SLL.
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