Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia Drug Shows Promise
A new drug treating chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) has managed to treat nearly half of patients who had stopped responding to drugs currently available, Fox Health News reported. According to the in-house trial from Ariad Pharmaceuticals, about 47 percent of 449 leukemia patients taking ponatinib had a “major response” to the drug.
That means at least two-thirds of their bone marrow was normal, Fox noted.
Of these 47 percent, 39 percent reached complete remission of their leukemia. All those who participated had already stopped responding to drugs sold by Novartis AG and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.
As for side effects, Ariad Chief Executive Officer Harvey Berger told reporters that “the side effect profile [of ponatinib] is every bit as good as other drugs in this class.” Specifically, side effects observed in the trial included rash, thrombocytopenia, dry skin, abdominal pain and headache. Four patients with advanced leukemia died during the trial, and Ariad was unable to rule out the possibility that the drug was related to their deaths.
The next step for the company is to launch a trial of the drug in patients newly diagnosed with CML, Fox said.
Ariad has not yet decided whether it will apply for a European partner for the drug, but it does plan to apply for approval of ponatinib in the United States toward the middle of next year.