New Drug Added to NCCN Follicular Lymphoma Guidelines

According to a story from, Verastem, Inc., recently announced that its drug COPIKTRA (duvelisib) was recently added to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s (NCCN) guidelines for the treatment of follicular lymphoma. Verastem is dedicated to the development of treatments that improve the quality of life and survival of cancer patients.

About Follicular Lymphoma

Follicular lymphoma is a type of blood cancer. While generally considered rare, it is the most common type of slow growing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This cancer affect follicle center B-cells, which are also known as centrocytes. There appears to be a genetic basis for follicular lymphoma, and the cancer has been linked to translocation between chromsomes 14 and 18. This results in the overexpression of a gene called bcl-2. Symptoms for this cancer are similar to other blood cancers, such as night sweats, fever, infections, weight loss, swollen lymph nodes, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Treatment options may include monoclonal antibodies, chemotherapy, radioimmunotherapy, and stem cell transplant. Some patients can survive for decades with follicular lymphoma, with a median survival time of 10 years. The five year survival rate is 72 to 77 percent. With the newest treatments, survival rates are improving. To learn more about follicular lymphoma, click here.


COPIKTRA is a PI3K inhibitor, and it is also the first drug of this type that inhibits both PI3K delta and PI3K gamma. The drug was approved in late September for the treatment of relapsed or refractory follicular lymphoma. Patients are expected to have received two prior therapies before beginning treatment with COPIKTRA. The drug received accelerated approval that was based on overall response rate data. The advice regarding the use of the treatment in the the NCCN guidlines is essentially in line with the FDA’s indication for the drug.

Robert Forrester, the president of Verastem, praised the addition of the new drug to the guidelines.

It should be noted that COPIKTRA comes with a boxed warning that highlights potentially dangerous adverse effects that could appear when using the drug, which includes pneumonitis, diarrhea, colitis, skin reactions, and infections. The approval of this therapy adds another viable treatment option for patients with relapsed follicular lymphoma.

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