Ibrutinib (Imbruvica) as monotherapy for people who have had treatment for CLL and are unable to have further chemotherapy

In 2016, the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany) assessed the advantages and disadvantages of ibrutinib (trade name: Imbruvica) for people who have had treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and are unable to have chemotherapy. The manufacturer provided one study involving about 391 people. 196 people had the standard treatment with ofatumumab, while 195 people received ibrutinib. In addition, all participants received best supportive care (BSC).

What are the advantages of ibrutinib?

  • Life expectancy: There was weak evidence that ibrutinib can increase life expectancy. But it is unclear how great this advantage is.

What remains unanswered?

Because the study on ibrutinib was only of limited use, several issues remain unanswered. In particular, it is not possible to rule out that severe side effects are more common with ibrutinib. Quality of life could also become noticeably worse with ibrutinib.