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Rituximab Promotes Long-Term Response for Patients with Immune Destruction of Platelets
Date:5/7/2012

WASHINGTON, May 7, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new analysis concludes that rituximab, a drug commonly used to treat blood cancers, leads to treatment responses lasting at least five years in approximately one quarter of patients with low platelet counts and a risk of bleeding due to chronic immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). In study results published online today in Blood, the Journal of the American Society of Hematology (ASH), investigators at Weill Cornell Medical College provide the very first long-term outcome data for patients with chronic ITP treated with rituxamab.

Approximately 200,000 Americans suffer from ITP, a bleeding disorder in which the immune system destroys blood cells called platelets that are necessary for normal blood clotting, which can result in excessive bleeding and heavy bruising.[1] Common treatment options for increasing platelet counts in the majority of patients with ITP include corticosteroid drug therapy, used to suppress a patient's immune system in order to help bring platelet counts back to normal; splenectomy, the surgical removal of the spleen, to halt the destruction of antibody-coated platelets found in the organ; and newer thrombopoietin (TPO)-mimetic agents to help stimulate platelet production. While these treatments are successful in many patients, all are associated with side effects: corticosteroids are associated with bone loss, cataracts, and other serious toxicity with long-term use; splenectomy can increase a patient's risk of infection; and TPO-mimetic agents can result in blood clots, and their long-term response in patients is not well-studied. In addition to their reported side effects, some patients with ITP stop responding or have insufficient response to these therapies.

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SOURCE American Society of Hematology
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