Venclexta - Pharmaceutical Information, Clinical Trials, Detailed Pharmacology, Toxicology
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Venclexta - Scientific Information

Manufacture: AbbVie
Country: United States
Condition: Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
Class: Miscellaneous antineoplastics
Form: Tablets
Ingredients: Venetoclax, Copovidone, Colloidal silicon dioxide, Polysorbate 80, Sodium stearyl fumarate, Calcium phosphate dibasic.


Venetoclax is a selective inhibitor of BCL-2 protein. It is a light yellow to dark yellow solid with the empirical formula C45H50ClN7O7S and a molecular weight of 868.44. Venetoclax has very low aqueous solubility. Venetoclax is described chemically as 4-(4-{[2-(4-chlorophenyl)-4,4-dimethylcyclohex-1-en-1-yl]methyl}piperazin-1-yl)-N-({3-nitro-4-[(tetrahydro-2H-pyran-4-ylmethyl)amino]phenyl}sulfonyl)-2-(1H-pyrrolo[2,3-b]pyridin-5-yloxy)benzamide) and has the following chemical structure:

VENCLEXTA tablets for oral administration are supplied as pale yellow or beige tablets that contain 10, 50, or 100 mg venetoclax as the active ingredient. Each tablet also contains the following inactive ingredients: copovidone, colloidal silicon dioxide, polysorbate 80, sodium stearyl fumarate, and calcium phosphate dibasic. In addition, the 10 mg and 100 mg coated tablets include the following: iron oxide yellow, polyvinyl alcohol, polyethylene glycol, talc, and titanium dioxide. The 50 mg coated tablets also include the following: iron oxide yellow, iron oxide red, iron oxide black, polyvinyl alcohol, talc, polyethylene glycol and titanium dioxide. Each tablet is debossed with “V” on one side and “10”, “50” or “100” corresponding to the tablet strength on the other side.

Clinical Pharmacology

Mechanism of Action

Venetoclax is a selective and orally bioavailable small-molecule inhibitor of BCL-2, an anti-apoptotic protein. Overexpression of BCL-2 has been demonstrated in CLL cells where it mediates tumor cell survival and has been associated with resistance to chemotherapeutics. Venetoclax helps restore the process of apoptosis by binding directly to the BCL-2 protein, displacing pro-apoptotic proteins like BIM, triggering mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization and the activation of caspases. In nonclinical studies, venetoclax has demonstrated cytotoxic activity in tumor cells that overexpress BCL-2.


Cardiac Electrophysiology

The effect of multiple doses of VENCLEXTA up to 1200 mg once daily on the QTc interval was evaluated in an open-label, single-arm study in 176 patients with previously treated hematologic malignancies. VENCLEXTA had no large effect on QTc interval (i.e., > 20 ms) and there was no relationship between venetoclax exposure and change in QTc interval.



Following multiple oral administrations under fed conditions, maximum plasma concentration of venetoclax was reached 5-8 hours after dose. Venetoclax steady state AUC increased proportionally over the dose range of 150-800 mg. Under low-fat meal conditions, venetoclax mean (± standard deviation) steady state Cmax was 2.1 ± 1.1 μg/mL and AUC0-24 was 32.8 ± 16.9 μg•h/mL at the 400 mg once daily dose.

Food Effect

Administration with a low-fat meal increased venetoclax exposure by approximately 3.4-fold and administration with a high-fat meal increased venetoclax exposure by 5.1- to 5.3-fold compared to fasting conditions. Venetoclax should be administered with a meal.


Venetoclax is highly bound to human plasma protein with unbound fraction in plasma <0.01 across a concentration range of 1-30 µM (0.87-26 µg/mL). The mean blood-to-plasma ratio was 0.57. The population estimate for apparent volume of distribution (Vdss/F) of venetoclax ranged from 256-321 L in patients.


The population estimate for the terminal elimination half-life of venetoclax was approximately 26 hours. The pharmacokinetics of venetoclax does not change over time.


In vitro studies demonstrated that venetoclax is predominantly metabolized by CYP3A4/5. M27 was identified as a major metabolite in plasma with an inhibitory activity against BCL-2 that is at least 58-fold lower than venetoclax in vitro.


After single oral administration of 200 mg radiolabeled [ 14C]-venetoclax dose to healthy subjects, >99.9% of the dose was recovered in feces and <0.1% of the dose was excreted in urine within 9 days, indicating that hepatic elimination is responsible for the clearance of venetoclax from the systemic circulation. Unchanged venetoclax accounted for 20.8% of the administered radioactive dose excreted in feces.

Special Populations

Age, Race, Sex, and Weight

Based on population pharmacokinetic analyses, age, race, sex, and weight do not have a clinically meaningful effect on venetoclax clearance.

Renal Impairment

Based on a population pharmacokinetic analysis that included 211 subjects with mild renal impairment (CrCl ≥60 and <90 mL/min, calculated by Cockcroft-Gault equation), 83 subjects with moderate renal impairment (CrCl ≥30 and <60 mL/min) and 210 subjects with normal renal function (CrCl ≥90 mL/min), venetoclax exposures in subjects with mild or moderate renal impairment are similar to those with normal renal function. The pharmacokinetics of venetoclax has not been studied in subjects with severe renal impairment (CrCl <30 mL/min) or subjects on dialysis.

Hepatic Impairment

Based on a population pharmacokinetic analysis that included 69 subjects with mild hepatic impairment, 7 subjects with moderate hepatic impairment and 429 subjects with normal hepatic function, venetoclax exposures are similar in subjects with mild and moderate hepatic impairment and normal hepatic function. The NCI Organ Dysfunction Working Group criteria for hepatic impairment were used in the analysis. Mild hepatic impairment was defined as normal total bilirubin and aspartate transaminase (AST) > upper limit of normal (ULN) or total bilirubin >1.0 to 1.5 times ULN, moderate hepatic impairment as total bilirubin >1.5 to 3.0 times ULN, and severe hepatic impairment as total bilirubin >3.0 times ULN. The pharmacokinetics of venetoclax has not been studied in subjects with severe hepatic impairment.

Drug Interactions


Co-administration of 400 mg once daily ketoconazole, a strong CYP3A, P-gp and BCRP inhibitor, for 7 days in 11 previously treated NHL patients increased venetoclax Cmax by 2.3-fold and AUC∞ by 6.4-fold.

Rifampin Multiple Doses

Co-administration of 600 mg once daily rifampin, a strong CYP3A inducer, for 13 days in 10 healthy subjects decreased venetoclax Cmax by 42% and AUC∞ by 71%.

Rifampin Single Dose

Co-administration of a 600 mg single dose of rifampin, an OATP1B1/1B3 and P-gp inhibitor, in 11 healthy subjects increased venetoclax Cmax by 106% and AUC∞ by 78%.

Gastric Acid Reducing Agents

Based on population pharmacokinetic analysis, gastric acid reducing agents (e.g., proton pump inhibitors, H2-receptor antagonists, antacids) do not affect venetoclax bioavailability.


In a drug-drug interaction study in three healthy subjects, administration of a single 400 mg dose of venetoclax with 5 mg warfarin resulted in 18% to 28% increase in Cmax and AUC∞ of R-warfarin and S-warfarin.

In Vitro Studies

In vitro studies indicated that venetoclax is not an inhibitor or inducer of CYP1A2, CYP2B6, CYP2C19, CYP2D6, or CYP3A4 at clinically relevant concentrations. Venetoclax is a weak inhibitor of CYP2C8, CYP2C9, and UGT1A1 in vitro, but it is not predicted to cause clinically relevant inhibition due to high plasma protein binding. Venetoclax is not an inhibitor of UGT1A4, UGT1A6, UGT1A9, or UGT2B7.

Venetoclax is a P-gp and BCRP substrate as well as a P-gp and BCRP inhibitor and weak OATP1B1 inhibitor in vitro. To avoid a potential interaction in the gastrointestinal tract, co-administration of narrow therapeutic index P-gp substrates such as digoxin with VENCLEXTA should be avoided. If a narrow therapeutic index P -gp substrate must be used, it should be taken at least 6 hours before VENCLEXTA. Venetoclax is not expected to inhibit OATP1B3, OCT1, OCT2, OAT1, OAT3, MATE1, or MATE2K at clinically relevant concentrations.

Nonclinical Toxicology

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment of Fertility

Carcinogenicity studies have not been conducted with venetoclax.

Venetoclax was not mutagenic in an in vitro bacterial mutagenicity (Ames) assay, did not induce numerical or structural aberrations in an in vitro chromosome aberration assay using human peripheral blood lymphocytes, and was not clastogenic in an in vivo mouse bone marrow micronucleus assay at doses up to 835 mg/kg. The M27 metabolite was negative for genotoxic activity in in vitro Ames and chromosome aberration assays.

Fertility and early embryonic development studies were conducted in male and female mice. These studies evaluate mating, fertilization, and embryonic development through implantation. There were no effects of venetoclax on estrus cycles, mating, fertility, corpora lutea, uterine implants or live embryos per litter at dosages up to 600 mg/kg/day. However, a risk to human male fertility exists based on testicular toxicity (germ cell loss) observed in dogs at exposures as low as 0.5 times the human AUC exposure at the recommend dose.

Animal Toxicology and/or Pharmacology

In dogs, venetoclax caused single-cell necrosis in various tissues, including the gallbladder, exocrine pancreas, and stomach with no evidence of disruption of tissue integrity or organ dysfunction; these findings were minimal to mild in magnitude. Following a 4-week dosing period and subsequent 4-week recovery period, minimal single-cell necrosis was still present in some tissues and reversibility has not been assessed following longer periods of dosing or recovery.

In addition, after approximately 3 months of daily dosing in dogs, venetoclax caused progressive white discoloration of the hair coat, due to loss of melanin pigment.

Clinical Studies

The efficacy of VENCLEXTA was established in an open-label, single-arm, multicenter clinical trial of 106 patients with CLL with 17p deletion who had received at least one prior therapy. In the study, 17p deletion was confirmed in peripheral blood specimens from patients using Vysis

CLL FISH Probe Kit, which is FDA approved for selection of patients for VENCLEXTA treatment. Patients received VENCLEXTA via a weekly ramp-up schedule starting at 20 mg and ramping to 50 mg, 100 mg, 200 mg and finally 400 mg once daily. Patients continued to receive 400 mg of VENCLEXTA orally once daily until disease progression or unacceptable toxicity.

The efficacy of VENCLEXTA was evaluated by overall response rate (ORR) as assessed by an Independent Review Committee (IRC) using the International Workshop for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (IWCLL) updated National Cancer Institute-sponsored Working Group (NCI-WG) guidelines (2008).

Table 1 summarizes the baseline demographic and disease characteristics of the study population.

Table 1. Baseline Patient Characteristics
Characteristics N=106
Age, years; median (range) 67 (37-83)
White; % 97.1
Male; % 65.1
ECOG performance status; %
Tumor burden; %
   Absolute lymphocyte count ≥25 x 109/L
   One or more nodes ≥5 cm
Number of prior therapies; median (range) 2.5 (1-10)
Time since diagnosis, months; median (range)a 79.4 (1.2-385.6)


The median time on treatment at the time of evaluation was 12.1 months (range: 0 to 21.5 months). Efficacy results are shown in Table 2.

Table 2. Efficacy Results for Patients with Previously Treated CLL with 17p Deletion by IRC
ORR, n (%)
   (95% CI)
85 (80.2)
(71.3, 87.3)
   CR + CRi, n (%)
      CR, n (%)
      CRi, n (%)
8 (7.5)
6 (5.7)
2 (1.9)
   nPR, n (%) 3 (2.8)
   PR, n (%) 74 (69.8)

CI = confidence interval; CR = complete remission; CRi = complete remission with incomplete marrow recovery; IRC = independent review committee; nPR = nodular partial remission; ORR = overall response rate (CR + CRi + nPR + PR); PR = partial remission.

The median time to first response was 0.8 months (range: 0.1 to 8.1 months). Median duration of response (DOR) has not been reached with approximately 12 months median follow-up. The DOR ranged from 2.9 to 19.0+ months.

Minimal residual disease (MRD) was evaluated in peripheral blood and bone marrow for patients who achieved CR or CRi, following treatment with VENCLEXTA. Three percent (3/106) were MRD negative in the peripheral blood and bone marrow (less than one CLL cell per 104 leukocytes).