A new drug, eltrombopag, appears to be effective in boosting low platelet counts, one of the major reasons why patients can’t endure antiviral treatments. Researchers at Duke University Medical Center and other centers world-wide studied eltrombopag (marketed as Promacta in the US and Revolade in Europe by GlaxoSmithKline) in 74 patients with low platelet counts and cirrhosis of the liver due to HCV infection. They found that it boosted platelet counts in a majority of patients at each of three dosage levels, enabling most of them to continue or start conventional antiviral treatment. The findings appear in the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
“We feel this is an important development for many people infected with the hepatitis C virus world-wide,” says Dr. John McHutchison, professor of medicine and associate director of the Duke Clinical Research Institute. “A significant number of patients with HCV infection will at some point develop platelet problems that will compromise their getting the best treatments we have. Anything we can do to prevent that from happening would improve their care.”
In the Phase 2, multi-center trial, participants were randomized to a control group or to receive 30, 50, or 75 milligrams of eltrombopag daily. The patients had platelet levels ranging from 20,000 to 70,000 (145,000 to 450,000 is normal). The Duke study found that eltrombopag worked in a dose-dependent manner, meaning that patients got a better response with increasing amounts of the drug. Seventy-four percent of those in the trial who took the lowest dose saw their platelet counts go up significantly, while 79 percent and 95 percent of the participants saw increases with the higher doses.
Release date: November 28, 2007
Source: Duke University Medical Center
Filed Under: Drug Discovery