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Eltrombopag Increases Platelet Counts in Purpura

Study suggests that drug-produced platelets function normally and reduce bleeding

FRIDAY, Feb. 20 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with chronic idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, eltrombopag -- an oral, non-peptide, thrombopoietin-receptor agonist -- may help manage thrombocytopenia, according to a study published in the Feb. 21 issue of The Lancet.

James B. Bussel, M.D., of the Weill-Cornell Medical College of Cornell University in New York City, and colleagues randomly assigned 110 patients from 63 sites in 23 countries to receive either standard care plus once-daily eltrombopag at a dose of 50 mg or placebo for up to six weeks. After three weeks, patients with low platelet counts were allowed to increase the dose to 75 mg.

After 43 days, the researchers found that the treatment group was significantly more likely than the placebo group to achieve platelet counts above 50,000 per uL (59 percent versus 16 percent). They also found that 10 of the 34 patients (29 percent) who increased the dose to 75 mg achieved a good response. Adverse effects were similar in the treatment and placebo groups.

"The primary treatment goal in chronic idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura is the prevention of bleeding complications," the authors write. "A significant reduction in bleeding symptoms during and at the end of the treatment period was recorded in the eltrombopag group compared with the placebo group, suggesting that the platelets produced in response to eltrombopag treatment function normally."

The study was funded by GlaxoSmithKline, and several study authors disclosed financial ties to GlaxoSmithKline and other pharmaceutical companies.

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