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Palifermin Eases Mouth, Throat Mucositis in Studies

Chemotherapy patients report less pain, better function with drug than placebo

MONDAY, Nov. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Palifermin can ease oral and throat mucositis and improve function in patients undergoing chemotherapy for autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant or metastatic colorectal cancer compared with a placebo, according to two studies published in the Nov. 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Patrick J. Stiff, M.D., of Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill., and colleagues evaluated 212 patients who had palifermin or placebo three days before total irradiation, etoposide, and cyclophosphamide, and three days after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.

Patients and clinicians reported that palifermin eased severe oral mucositis. Those on palifermin used fewer opioids and had an improvement in eating, talking and sleeping compared to those on placebo.

In another study, Lee S. Rosen, M.D., of the John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, Calif., and colleagues randomly assigned 64 metastatic colorectal cancer patients to palifermin or placebo three days before two consecutive fluorouracil/leucovorin chemotherapy cycles.

Patients who were treated with the drug had a reduction in World Health Organization grade 2 or higher oral mucositis compared with placebo-treated patients.

Some of the authors report that they consult, own stock or are employed by Amgen. Amgen provided research funds for the studies.

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