Velcade-based therapy shows benefit in multiple myeloma trial called GIMEMA.
Although advances in treating multiple myeloma have steadily improved outcomes over the past 40 years, older patients, who account for 66 percent of new cases and three-fourths of myeloma deaths, have had limited options. Results of an Italian study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology show that a new treatment and maintenance regimen using a combination of Velcade (bortezomib) and Thalomid (thalidomide) reduced the risk of death by 26 percent in older patients with previously untreated multiple myeloma.
In the phase 3 GIMEMA trial, 511 patients over age 65 from 58 cancer centers were randomized to receive either a four-drug combination of Velcade, melphalan, prednisone and Thalomid (VMPT) followed by a maintenance regimen of Velcade and Thalomid (VT), or a threedrug combination of Velcade, melphalan and prednisone (VMP).
The five-year overall survival rate was about 59 percent in the maintenance arm (VMPT-VT) versus around 46 percent in the control arm (VMP).
Side effects were similar in both arms, although a small number of patients in the maintenance arm experienced serious peripheral neuropathy (4 percent), and 13 percent of patients discontinued the trial because of adverse events.