June 4, 2006
Celgene drug boosts multiple myeloma survival-study
ATLANTA (Reuters) - Celgene Inc. said on Sunday its cancer
drug Thalomid improved survival by a significant amount in
elderly patients with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer.
Data presented at the annual meeting of the American
Society of Clinical Oncology in Atlanta showed that giving
Thalomid in combination with two standard drugs improved
survival compared with either the standard therapy alone or
standard therapy plus a stem cell transplant.
The current standard first-line treatment for patients 65
and older is a combination of the drugs melphalan and
prednisone, or MP. For younger patients, the standard treatment
is an intense dose of melphalan followed by a stem cell
The average age of multiple myeloma patients is about 63.
The study, which included patients aged 65 to 75, showed
that patients in the group that received MP and thalidomide
survived an average of 53.6 months compared to 32.2 months for
the MP group alone.
A group of patients that took high doses of melphalan
followed by a stem cell transplant survived an average of 38.6
"The results of MP plus thalidomide were so superior that
enrollment in the study was stopped so that everyone who was
receiving MP alone could have thalidomide added to their
treatment," said Dr. Thierry Facon, Professor of Hematology at
the University of Lille, and the study's lead author.
Side effects in the thalidomide group were considerably
higher in either of the other groups: 12 percent of patients
had deep-vein thrombosis, or blood clots, compared with 5
percent in the standard therapy group and 6.5 percent in the
About 30 percent of the thalidomide group experienced
tingling or numbness in the extremities, which was not
experienced at all by patients in the other groups.