February 9, 2016
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Mechanism Of Action

Bendamustine is a bifunctional mechlorethamine derivative containing a purine-like benzimidazole ring. Mechlorethamine and its derivatives form electrophilic alkyl groups. These groups form covalent bonds with electron-rich nucleophilic moieties, resulting in interstrand DNA crosslinks. The bifunctional covalent linkage can lead to cell death via several pathways. Bendamustine is active against both quiescent and dividing cells. The exact mechanism of action of bendamustine remains unknown.


Based on the pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics analyses of data from adult NHL patients, nausea increased with increasing bendamustine Cmax .

Cardiac Electrophysiology

The effect of bendamustine on the QTc interval was evaluated in 53 patients with indolent NHL and mantle cell lymphoma on Day 1 of Cycle 1 after administration of rituximab at 375 mg/m² intravenous infusion followed by a 30minute intravenous infusion of bendamustine at 90 mg/m²/day. No mean changes greater than 20 milliseconds were detected up to one hour post-infusion. The potential for delayed effects on the QT interval after one hour was not evaluated.



Following a single IV dose of bendamustine hydrochloride C max typically occurred at the end of infusion. The dose proportionality of bendamustine has not been studied.


In vitro, the binding of bendamustine to human serum plasma proteins ranged from 94-96% and was concentration independent from 1-50 μg/mL. Data suggest that bendamustine is not likely to displace or to be displaced by highly protein-bound drugs. The blood to plasma concentration ratios in human blood ranged from 0.84 to 0.86 over a concentration range of 10 to 100 μg/mL indicating that bendamustine distributes freely in human red blood cells.

In a mass balance study, plasma radioactivity levels were sustained for a greater period of time than plasma concentrations of bendamustine, γ hydroxybendamustine (M3), and N desmethylbendamustine (M4). This suggests that there are bendamustine derived materials (detected via the radiolabel), that are rapidly cleared and have a longer half-life than bendamustine and its active metabolites.

The mean steady-state volume of distribution (Vss) of bendamustine was approximately 20-25 L. Steady-state volume of distribution for total radioactivity was approximately 50 L, indicating that neither bendamustine nor total radioactivity are extensively distributed into the tissues.


In vitro data indicate that bendamustine is primarily metabolized via hydrolysis to monohydroxy (HP1) and dihydroxybendamustine (HP2) metabolites with low cytotoxic activity. Two active minor metabolites, M3 and M4, are primarily formed via CYP1A2. However, concentrations of these metabolites in plasma are 1/10th and 1/100th that of the parent compound, respectively, suggesting that the cytotoxic activity is primarily due to bendamustine. Results of a human mass balance study confirm that bendamustine is extensively metabolized via hydrolytic, oxidative, and conjugative pathways.

In vitro studies using human liver microsomes indicate that bendamustine does not inhibit CYP1A2, 2C9/10, 2D6, 2E1, or 3A4/5. Bendamustine did not induce metabolism of CYP1A2, CYP2A6, CYP2B6, CYP2C8, CYP2C9, CYP2C19, CYP2E1, or CYP3A4/5 enzymes in primary cultures of human hepatocytes.


Mean recovery of total radioactivity in cancer patients following IV infusion of [14C] bendamustine hydrochloride was approximately 76% of the dose. Approximately 50% of the dose was recovered in the urine and approximately 25% of the dose was recovered in the feces. Urinary excretion was confirmed as a relatively minor pathway of elimination of bendamustine, with approximately 3.3% of the dose recovered in the urine as parent. Less than 1% of the dose was recovered in the urine as M3 and M4, and less than 5% of the dose was recovered in the urine as HP2.

Bendamustine clearance in humans is approximately 700 mL/minute. After a single dose of 120 mg/m² bendamustine IV over 1-hour the intermediate t ½ of the parent compound is approximately 40 minutes. The mean apparent terminal elimination t ½ of M3 and M4 are approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes respectively. Little or no accumulation in plasma is expected for bendamustine administered on Days 1 and 2 of a 28-day cycle.

Renal Impairment

In a population pharmacokinetic analysis of bendamustine in patients receiving 120 mg/m² there was no meaningful effect of renal impairment (CrCL 40 -80 mL/min, N=31) on the pharmacokinetics of bendamustine. Bendamustine has not been studied in patients with CrCL < 40 mL/min.

These results are however limited, and therefore bendamustine should be used with caution in patients with mild or moderate renal impairment. Bendamustine should not be used in patients with CrCL < 40 mL/min. [see Use In Specific Populations]

Hepatic Impairment

In a population pharmacokinetic analysis of bendamustine in patients receiving 120 mg/m² there was no meaningful effect of mild (total bilirubin ≤ ULN, AST ≥ ULN to 2.5 x ULN, and/or ALP ≥ ULN to 5.0 x ULN, N=26) hepatic impairment on the pharmacokinetics of bendamustine. Bendamustine has not been studied in patients with moderate or severe hepatic impairment.

These results are however limited, and therefore bendamustine should be used with caution in patients with mild hepatic impairment. Bendamustine should not be used in patients with moderate (AST or ALT 2.5 -10 x ULN and total bilirubin 1.5 -3 x ULN) or severe (total bilirubin > 3 x ULN) hepatic impairment. [see Use In Specific Populations]

Effect of Age

Bendamustine exposure (as measured by AUC and Cmax ) has been studied in adult patients ages 31 through 84 years. The pharmacokinetics of bendamustine (AUC and Cmax ) were not significantly different between patients less than or greater than/equal to 65 years of age. [see Use in Specific Populations)]

Effect of Gender

The pharmacokinetics of bendamustine were similar in male and female patients. [see Use in Specific Populations]

Effect of Race

The effect of race on the safety, and/or efficacy of TREANDA has not been established. Based on a cross-study comparison, Japanese subjects (n = 6) had on average exposures that were 40% higher than non-Japanese subjects receiving the same dose. The significance of this difference on the safety and efficacy of TREANDA in Japanese subjects has not been established.

Clinical Studies

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)

The safety and efficacy of TREANDA were evaluated in an open-label, randomized, controlled multicenter trial comparing TREANDA to chlorambucil. The trial was conducted in 301 previously-untreated patients with Binet Stage B or C (Rai Stages I -IV) CLL requiring treatment. Need-to-treat criteria included hematopoietic insufficiency, B-symptoms, rapidly progressive disease or risk of complications from bulky lymphadenopathy. Patients with autoimmune hemolytic anemia or autoimmune thrombocytopenia, Richter's syndrome, or transformation to prolymphocytic leukemia were excluded from the study.

The patient populations in the TREANDA and chlorambucil treatment groups were balanced with regard to the following baseline characteristics: age (median 63 vs. 66 years), gender (63% vs. 61% male), Binet stage (71% vs. 69% Binet B), lymphadenopathy (79% vs. 82%), enlarged spleen (76% vs. 80%), enlarged liver (48% vs. 46%), hypercellular bone marrow (79% vs. 73%), “B” symptoms (51% vs. 53%), lymphocyte count (mean 65.7x109/L vs. 65.1x109/L), and serum lactate dehydrogenase concentration (mean 370.2 vs. 388.4 U/L). Ninety percent of patients in both treatment groups had immuno-phenotypic confirmation of CLL (CD5, CD23 and either CD19 or CD20 or both).

Patients were randomly assigned to receive either TREANDA at 100 mg/m², administered intravenously over a period of 30 minutes on Days 1 and 2 or chlorambucil at 0.8 mg/kg (Broca's normal weight) administered orally on Days 1 and 15 of each 28-day cycle. Efficacy endpoints of objective response rate and progression-free survival were calculated using a pre-specified algorithm based on NCI working group criteria for CLL.

The results of this open-label randomized study demonstrated a higher rate of overall response and a longer progression-free survival for TREANDA compared to chlorambucil (see Table 5). Survival data are not mature.

Table 5: Efficacy Data for CLL

Response Rate n (%)
  Overall response rate 90 (59) 38 (26) < 0.0001
  (95% CI) (51.0, 66.6) (18.6, 32.7)  
  Complete response (CR)* 13 (8) 1 ( < 1)  
  Nodular partial response (nPR)** 4 (3) 0  
  Partial response (PR)† 73 (48) 37 (25)  
Progression-Free Survival1††
  Median, months (95% CI) 18 (11.7, 23.5) 6 (5.6, 8.6)  
  Hazard ratio (95% CI) 0.27 (0.17, 0.43) < 0.0001
CI = confidence interval
* CR was defined as peripheral lymphocyte count ≤ 4.0 x 109/L, neutrophils ≥ 1.5 x 109/L, platelets > 100 x 109/L, hemoglobin > 110g/L, without transfusions, absence of palpable hepatosplenomegaly, lymph nodes ≤ 1.5 cm, < 30% lymphocytes without nodularity in at least a normocellular bone marrow and absence of “B” symptoms. The clinical and laboratory criteria were required to be maintained for a period of at least 56 days.
** nPR was defined as described for CR with the exception that the bone marrow biopsy shows persistent nodules.
† PR was defined as ≥ 50% decrease in peripheral lymphocyte count from the pretreatment baseline value, and either ≥ 50% reduction in lymphadenopathy, or ≥ 50% reduction in the size of spleen or liver, as well as one of the following hematologic improvements: neutrophils ≥ 1.5 x 109/L or 50% improvement over baseline, platelets > 100 x 109/L or 50% improvement over baseline, hemoglobin > 110g/L or 50% improvement over baseline without transfusions, for a period of at least 56 days.
†† PFS was defined as time from randomization to progression or death from any cause.

Kaplan-Meier estimates of progression-free survival comparing TREANDA with chlorambucil are shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1 : Progression-Free Survival

Kaplan-Meier estimates of progression-free survival - Illustration

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL)

The efficacy of TREANDA was evaluated in a single arm study of 100 patients with indolent B-cell NHL that had progressed during or within six months of treatment with rituximab or a rituximab-containing regimen. Patients were included if they relapsed within 6 months of either the first dose (monotherapy) or last dose (maintenance regimen or combination therapy) of rituximab. All patients received TREANDA intravenously at a dose of 120 mg/m², on Days 1 and 2 of a 21-day treatment cycle. Patients were treated for up to 8 cycles.

The median age was 60 years, 65% were male, and 95% had a baseline WHO performance status of 0 or 1. Major tumor subtypes were follicular lymphoma (62%), diffuse small lymphocytic lymphoma (21%), and marginal zone lymphoma (16%). Ninety-nine percent of patients had received previous chemotherapy, 91% of patients had received previous alkylator therapy, and 97% of patients had relapsed within 6 months of either the first dose (monotherapy) or last dose (maintenance regimen or combination therapy) of rituximab.

Efficacy was based on the assessments by a blinded independent review committee (IRC) and included overall response rate (complete response + complete response unconfirmed + partial response) and duration of response (DR) as summarized in Table 6.

Table 6: Efficacy Data for NHL*

Response Rate (%)
  Overall response rate (CR+CRu+PR) 74
  (95% CI) (64.3, 82.3)
  Complete response (CR) 13
  Complete response unconfirmed (CRu) 4
  Partial response (PR) 57
Duration of Response (DR)
  Median, months (95% CI) 9.2 months
  (7.1, 10.8)
CI = confidence interval
*IRC assessment was based on modified International Working Group response criteria (IWGRC). Modifications to IWG-RC specified that a persistently positive bone marrow in patients who met all other criteria for CR would be scored as PR. Bone marrow sample lengths were not required to be ≥ 20 mm.


1. OSHA Hazardous Drugs. OSHA. [Accessed on July 21, 2015, from http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/hazardousdrugs/index.html]

Last reviewed on RxList: 11/30/2015
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

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