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Novel Therapeutic Approaches May Transform Treatment and Improve Patient Outcomes in Several Platelet Disorders
Date:12/6/2008

ing in the mouth, and rash-like spots on the skin.

If left untreated, thrombocytopenia can become a life-threatening condition when blood platelet counts fall below 5,000 microliters because the risk of serious hemorrhaging (excessive bleeding) increases. Normal blood platelet counts are typically between 150,000 to 450,000 microliters in adults. Treatment for thrombocytopenia is dependent on the cause and severity of the condition and can include drug therapy, splenectomy (removal of spleen, whose function is to breakdown blood cells such as platelets), and platelet transfusions.

A Prospective Randomized Study Comparing Rituximab andDexamethasone Versus

Dexamethasone Alone in ITP: Results of Final Analysis and Long-Term Follow-Up

[Abstract #1]

Francesco Zaja, MD, Clinica Ematologica DIRM AOUD, Udine, Italy

This multicenter phase III study is the first to prospectively determine that adding the immunotherapy drug rituximab to dexamethasone (a steroid that is a standard therapy for ITP) is safe and effective in adult patients with previously untreated idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). The results of this study indicate that this treatment regimen could be an effective option prior to splenectomy for some patients as well as a possible cure for others.

In this study, patients were randomized to one of two treatment regimens: oral dexamethasone alone (40 mg) given on the first four days of treatment or the same regimen of dexamethasone plus rituximab given as an intravenous infusion (375 mg/m^2) once a week for four weeks. Some patients in the dexamethasone-only arm who failed to achieve a sustained response and had platelet counts of less than or equal to 20 x 10^9/L following 30 days of therapy up to the end of six months received a salvage (rescue) treatment of r
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SOURCE American Society of Hematology
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