In a nutshell
This paper studied the risk of adverse events in patients who receive treatment for multiple myeloma. The use of new drugs increased the risk of low blood count, peripheral neuropathy and blood clots.
Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells (type of white blood cell). Multiple myeloma can be treated with drugs and chemotherapy. Examples of newer drugs are bortezomib (Velcade) and lenalidomide (Revlimid). These are often given together with a steroid. These drugs are effective, but they can come with adverse events (undesired outcome of treatment). An example of an adverse event is peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage to the hands and feet that can affect sensation). Most studies of adverse events have looked at patients in clinical trials. This study looked at patients receiving treatment in the community under Medicare.
Methods & findings
2587 patients on Medicare with advanced multiple myeloma were studied. 79% of patients received a new drug. 21% of patients received conventional chemotherapy. Patients who received a new drug were younger on average.
Patients on a new drug were 19% more likely to develop anemia (low red blood cell levels) than those on conventional chemotherapy. Patients on a new therapy were 57% more likely to have peripheral neuropathy than those on conventional chemotherapy. The risk of blood clots was 31% higher in patients who received a new drug compared to conventional chemotherapy. Patients on a new drug were 15% less likely to develop high blood pressure than patients on conventional chemotherapy.
Patients who received 2 or 3 types of drugs were further studied. Patients who received 3 drugs were 66% more at risk of low white blood cell levels. Patients who received 3 drugs were 31% more at risk of anemia than patients who received 2 drugs. Patients who received 3 drugs were 39% more at risk of blood clots than patients who received 2 drugs.
The bottom line
The authors concluded that the new drugs increased the risk of anemia, peripheral neuropathy and blood clots.
Published By :
Annals of Hematology
Jan 15, 2018
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