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May 19, 2021

Chugai Launches Polivy Intravenous Infusion for the Treatment of Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma

  • Launched Polivy as a first-in-class anti-CD79b antibody-drug conjugate for the treatment of relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma

TOKYO, May 19, 2021 -- Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (TOKYO: 4519) announced that it launched an anticancer agent/antimicrotubule binding anti-CD79b monoclonal antibody Polivy® intravenous infusion 30 mg and 140 mg [generic name: polatuzumab vedotin (genetical recombination)] for the treatment of relapsed or refractory (R/R) diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). Polivy had been approved by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) on March 23, 2021 and was listed on the national health insurance (NHI) reimbursement price list today.

“We are very pleased to launch Polivy as a new treatment for relapsed or refractory DLBCL,” said Chugai’s President and CEO Dr. Osamu Okuda. “R/R DLBCL represents a high unmet medical need given the limited treatment options. We are committed to providing information in order to promote appropriate use of this first-in-class anti-CD79b antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) so that we may contribute to better treatment for patients.”

The approval is based on data including the results from a multicenter overseas phase Ib/II clinical study (GO29365) that evaluated the efficacy and safety of Polivy in combination with bendamustine and rituximab (BR therapy) compared to BR therapy alone, and a multicenter, single-arm Japanese phase II study (JO40762/P-DRIVE study) that evaluated the efficacy and safety of Polivy in combination with BR therapy in R/R DLBCL.

A double-blind, placebo-controlled global phase III study (GO39942/POLARIX study) is ongoing for untreated DLBCL to examine the efficacy and safety of Polivy in combination with rituximab plus cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, prednisolone (R-CHP) compared to rituximab plus cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, prednisolone (R-CHOP).

[Reference information]
Chugai Obtains Approval for Polivy for the Treatment of Relapsed or Refractory Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma (Press release issued by Chugai on March 23, 2021)

Polatuzumab Vedotin Achieved Primary Endpoint in the Japanese Phase II study for Relapsed or Refractory Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma (Press release issued by Chugai on February 13, 2020)

Approval information

Product name:
Polivy® Intravenous Infusion 30 mg
Polivy® Intravenous Infusion 140 mg

Generic name: polatuzumab vedotin (genetical recombination)

Intended uses or indications: Relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma

Dosage and administration:
The usual adult dosage is 1.8 mg/kg (body weight) polatuzumab vedotin (genetical recombination) administered by intravenous infusion every 3 weeks for 6 doses, in combination with bendamustine hydrochloride and rituximab (genetical recombination). If the first infusion is well tolerated after 90 minutes, subsequent infusions may be administered over a shorter time of at least 30 minutes. Reduce the dose as necessary in accordance with the patient’s condition.

Date of approval: March 23, 2021

Date of NHI reimbursement price listing: May 19, 2021

Date of launch: May 19, 2021

Drug price:
Polivy® Intravenous Infusion 30 mg JPY 298,825/vial
Polivy® Intravenous Infusion 140 mg JPY 1,364,330/vial

About GO29365 study1)
GO29365 is a global, phase Ib/II study evaluating the safety and tolerability of Polivy in combination with bendamustine and rituximab (BR therapy) or obinutuzumab (BG therapy) in R/R follicular lymphoma or DLBCL. In the phase II randomized part of the study with 80 DLBCL patients, the efficacy and safety of Polivy in combination with BR therapy were studied compared to BR therapy alone. The primary endpoint was complete response at the point of primary response assessment as evaluated by an independent assessment committee using PET-CT. Patients received six cycles of treatment, spaced three weeks apart.

About JO40762 (P-DRIVE) study
JO40762 (P-DRIVE) is an open label, single-arm study investigating Polivy in combination with BR therapy in 35 patients with R/R DLBCL. Primary endpoint is investigator’s assessment of CRR by PET-CT at the timing of primary response assessment. Patients received six cycles of treatment, spaced three weeks apart.

About Polivy
Polatuzumab vedotin was developed by Roche using Seattle Genetics’ ADC technology. It is a first-in-class anti-CD79b antibody-drug conjugate (ADC), comprising the anti-CD79b humanized monoclonal antibody and a tubulin polymerization inhibitor attached together using a linker. The CD79b protein is expressed specifically in the majority of B-cells, making it a promising target for the development of new therapies2,3). Polatuzumab vedotin binds to CD79b and destroys these B-cells through the delivery of an anti-cancer agent, which is thought to suppress the effects on normal cells4,5). Polatuzumab vedotin was granted accelerated approval in the US in June 2019 and conditional marketing authorization in the EU in January 2020, respectively.

About diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL)
DLBCL is one of the histologic subtypes of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), which is categorized as an aggressive disease that progresses on a monthly basis. DLBCL is the most common form of NHL, accounting for 30-40 percent of NHL, which is equivalent to about 23,000-32,000 patients6-10). DLBCL frequently occurs in middle-aged and older people, mainly in their 60’s11). The median age at diagnosis has been reported to be 6412).

The combination of rituximab and chemotherapy is the standard therapy for untreated DLBCL; however, recurrence has been observed in about 40% of patients due to insufficient therapeutic effect13). In addition, although autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT) is recommended for eligible patients with recurrent or refractory DLBCL, ASCT cannot be performed in about half of these patients due to failure of salvage chemotherapy prior to ASCT14). Furthermore, no standard therapy has been established for patients ineligible for ASCT due to reasons including age or complications15). Therefore, more useful new treatment options for relapsed or refractory DLBCL are in great need.

Salvage chemotherapy: Salvage chemotherapy or salvage therapy is used to treat patients with hematologic malignancy who experienced no therapeutic effects (refractory), or recurrence/relapse of the disease. Applicable treatment may vary depending on the type of cancer. Combination therapies of multiple drugs including anticancer agents16) are generally used.

Trademarks used or mentioned in this release are protected by law.


  1. Sehn LH, et al. Polatuzumab vedotin in relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Journal of Clinical Oncology 2020; 38: 155-165
  2. Dornan D, et al. Therapeutic potential of an anti-CD79b antibody-drug conjugate, anti-CD79b-vc-MMAE, for the treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Blood 2009; 114:2721-2729
  3. Pfeifer M, et al. Anti-CD22 and anti-CD79B antibody drug conjugates are active in different molecular diffuse large B-cell lymphoma subtypes. Leukemia 2015; 29:1578-1586
  4. Ducry L, Stump B. Antibody-drug conjugates: linking cytotoxic payloads to monoclonal antibodies. Bioconjug Chem. 2010; 21:5-13
  5. ADC Review. What are antibody-drug conjugates? Available from: (accessed in April 2021)
  6. Swerdlow SH, et al. WHO Classification of Tumours of Haematopoietic and Lymphoid Tissues, Revised 4th Edition. Lyon, International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2017
  7. Aoki R, et al. Distribution of malignant lymphoma in Japan: Analysis of 2260 cases.2001-2006. Pathol Int 2008; 58(3):174-182
  8. Chihara D, et al. Differences in incidence and trends of haematological malignancies in Japan and the United States. Br J Haematol 2014 Feb; 164(4):536-545
  9. Patient Survey 2017 Part 1; Graph No. 62. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (Japanese only)
  10. Lymphoma Study Group of Japanese Pathologists. Pathol Int. 2000 Sep;50(9):696-702.
  11. Niitsu N, Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. The Journal of the Japanese Society of Internal Medicine 2008; 97:1588-1594
  12. Armitage JO, Weisenburger DD. New approach to classifying non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas: clinical features of the major histologic subtypes. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Classification Project. J Clin Oncol 1998; 16:2780-2795
  13. Friedberg JW. Relapsed/Refractory Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma. Hematology Am Soc Hematol Educ Program 2011; 2011:498-505
  14. Gisselbrecht C, et al. Salvage Regimens With Autologous Transplantation for Relapsed Large B-Cell Lymphoma in the Rituximab Era. J Clin Oncol 2010; 28: 4184-4190
  15. Japanese Society of Hematology. Practical Guidelines for Hematological Malignancies, 2018, Kanehara & Co., Ltd. (Japanese only)
  16. Center for Cancer Control and Information Services, National Cancer Center. Glossary “salvage therapy” (accessed in April 2021, Japanese only)


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