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NCCN Guidelines Update Recommends Ropeginterferon Alfa-2b for Polycythemia Vera


Ropeginterferon alfa-2b was moved to preferred status for patients with high- and low-risk polycythemia vera in a recent update to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology.

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology was recently updated to include ropeginterferon alfa-2b (Besremi; PharmaEssentia) as a preferred treatment option for patients with high- and low-risk polycythemia vera (PV), according to a press release from PharmaEssentia USA Corporation.1

The updated guidelines recommend ropeginterferon alfa-2b and designate the recommendation as category 2A, which signifies a uniform NCCN consensus that ropeginterferon alfa-2b is an appropriate intervention for patients with PV. The agent was granted FDA approval for the treatment of PV in 2021 and was the first FDA-approved treatment indicated for PV regardless of previous treatment.2

“Importantly, the NCCN Guidelines update includes moving [ropeginterferon alfa-2b] to preferred status, reinforcing to treating physicians and patients that with its broad utility, [ropeginterferon alfa-2b] is recommended for proactively treating PV,” said John Mascarenhas, MD, professor of medicine, hematology, and medical oncology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, in a statement.1

PV, a rare hematological malignancy and the most common chronic myeloproliferative neoplasm, is characterized by overproduction of red blood cells in bone marrow that can lead to elevated white blood cell and platelet counts. Ropeginterferon alfa-2b is a monopegylated, long-acting interferon that blocks the signals that cause malignant cells to multiply.

The FDA approval of ropeginterferon alfa-2b was based on safety data from the PEGINVERA (NCT01193699) trial; PROUD-PV (NCT01949805) and its open-label extension portion, CONTINUATION-PV (NCT02218047); and efficacy data from the PEGINVERA clinical study program, according to a press release following the 2021 approval.3

Efficacy results showed that 61% of patients experienced complete hematological response—defined as hematocrit less than 45% without phlebotomy for at least 2 months since the patient’s last phlebotomy, platelet counts of 400 x 109/L or less, leukocytes of 10 x 109/L or less, and normal spleen size—following 7.5 years of treatment with ropeginterferon alfa-2b. Based on objective laboratory parameters, 80% of patients achieved a hematological response in the study.

As far as safety, ropeginterferon alfa-2b was shown tolerable in a pooled safety population, with the most common adverse reactions with incidence of 40% or higher being influenza-like illness, arthralgia, fatigue, pruritis, nasopharyngitis, and musculoskeletal pain. Serious adverse reactions occurring in less than 4% of cases were urinary tract infection, transient ischemic attack, and depression.

New data from the PROUD-PV and CONTINUATION-PV studies were presented at the 64th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting and Exposition last December, adding to evidence in support of ropeginterferon alfa-2b for PV. In one abstract, the majority of both low- and high-risk patients with PV (85.7% and 75.0%, respectively) in the CONTINUATION-PV trial did not require phlebotomy for the entire sixth year of treatment.4

“This recent update to treatment guidelines by NCCN represents the community’s recognition of the value of [ropeginterferon alfa-2b] as a therapeutic option for all adults with PV, regardless of their treatment history,” said Raymond Urbanski, MD, PhD, US. Head of Clinical Development and Medical Affairs at PharmEssentia. “Given its deep, durable control over the disease beyond the symptoms, we’re continuing to study [ropeginterferon alfa-2b] in PV, as well as other myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) and hematologic malignancies.”


1. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology updated to recommend Besremi (ropeginterferon alfa-2b-njft) as a preferred intervention for polycythemia vera. News release. PharmaEssentia USA Corporation. May 23, 2023. Accessed May 24, 2023. https://us.pharmaessentia.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/NCCN_Guidelines_Update_Press_Release_May-23-2023.pdf

2. FDA approves treatment for rare blood disease. News release. FDA. November 12, 2021. Accessed July 6, 2023. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-treatment-rare-blood-disease

3. US FDA approves Besremi (ropeginterferon alfa-2b-njft) as the only interferon for adults with polycythemia vera. News release. PharmaEssentia Corporation. November 12, 2021. Accessed July 6, 2023. https://us.pharmaessentia.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/BESREMi-FDA-Approval-November-12-2021.pdf

4. Caffrey M, Shaw ML, Klein H. ASH 2022: rare diseases & blood disorders. Am J Manag Care. 2023;29(SP1):SP42-SP46.

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