Drug Treats Painful Side Effect of Chemotherapy

Thwarts debilitating mouth sores

THURSDAY, Dec. 16, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the Amgen intravenous drug Kepivance (palifermin) to prevent mucositis, a common side effect among blood cancer patients who have chemotherapy before bone marrow transplants.

Patients with mucositis, characterized by debilitating, painful sores in the lining of the mouth and throat, often have trouble eating, drinking and swallowing.

Some 11,000 adults with hematologic cancers -- including non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease, leukemia and multiple myeloma -- have bone marrow transplants each year, Amgen said. The new drug works to stimulate the growth of cells in the mouth and throat that protect tissue from the harmful effects of chemotherapy and/or radiation.

The most common side effects of Kepivance use were skin rash, tingling sensations in the mouth and throat, and an increase in certain blood proteins that signal pancreatic irritation. None of these conditions is considered serious, the FDA said.

More information

For more information about mucositis, visit the National Cancer Institute.

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