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Thalidomide Active in Advanced Multiple Myeloma

Thalidomide Active in Advanced Multiple Myeloma

Mayo Clinic investigators confirmed a recent study showing the activity of thalidomide (Thalomid) in advanced multiple myeloma. Although the drug needs to undergo further clinical trials, it may provide myeloma patients with a new treatment option where few previously existed.

“This is the first new active oral agent for the treatment of multiple myeloma in more than 2 decades,” said S. Vincent Rajkumar, MD, a Mayo Clinic hematologist. Dr. Rajkumar and his colleagues studied 16 patients who received thalidomide for relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma between November 1998 and August 1999. Their results, presented at the 1999 American Society of Hematology meeting, confirm the findings of a study published by Bart Barlogie, MD, an oncologist at the University of Arkansas, and colleagues in the November 18, 1999, issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

Mayo Clinic Study Results

In the Mayo Clinic study, four patients (25%) achieved a partial response to thalidomide therapy, with a greater than 50% reduction in serum or urine monoclonal proteins. Prior to starting the thalidomide regimen, 88% of the patients had received two or more chemotherapy treatments.

The findings on thalidomide are important because many patients with advanced multiple myeloma have few other treatment options. Often, their chemotherapy and/or transplants have failed to produce results or they are ineligible for a transplant.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently approves thalidomide only for use in leprosy. The researchers note that further clinical trials are warranted to define the role of thalidomide in myeloma.

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