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New Data Support Continuing Hydroxyurea for Pediatric Sickle Cell


FROM THE ANNUAL MEETING OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF HEMATOLOGY


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Major Finding: Compared with children not taking hydroxyurea, those who continue to take hydroxyurea have statistically lower rates of pain crises requiring emergency department visits (rate of 29 vs. 54 per 100 patient-years, respectively), episodic transfusions (18 vs. 34 per 100 patient-years), and hospital admissions for any reason (73 vs. 132 per 100 patient-years), including acute chest syndrome or febrile illness.

Data Source: A study of 163 children aged 28-44 months who had participated in the original Pediatric Hydroxyurea Phase III Clinical Trial (BABY HUG) and who had completed at least 18 months of randomized treatment of either hydroxyurea or placebo.

Disclosures: The study is funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

SAN DIEGO – Mounting data from a federally funded follow-up to the BABY HUG study continue to demonstrate that hydroxyurea is a safe and effective treatment for young children with sickle cell anemia.

The results confirm findings published earlier this year from the Pediatric Hydroxyurea Phase III Clinical Trial (BABY HUG), a randomized, placebo-controlled study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

BABY HUG showed that hydroxyurea administered to 9- to 18-month-old children with sickle cell anemia provides significant clinical benefits, including a decrease in pain crises, acute chest syndrome events, and need for transfusion and hospital admission (Lancet 2011; 377:1663-72).

Hydroxyurea is approved to prevent sickle cell complications in adults with sickle cell anemia, but it is not currently indicated for use in children. Dr. Zora R. Rogers discussed the new data during a press briefing prior to a presentation at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology.

"We need to complete the data analysis and to critically examine the growth and development of this population with respect to hydroxyurea use," lead author Dr. Rogers said of the follow-up study, which terminates on Dec. 31, 2011. "But on a macroscopic level there [do] not appear to be any differences observed."

In 2008 Dr. Rogers, professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, and her associates at 14 centers launched the BABY HUG Follow-Up Study I to assess the safety and efficacy of continued treatment with hydroxyurea in infants with sickle cell anemia. The population consisted of 163 children aged 28-44 months who had participated in the original BABY HUG trial and who had completed at least 18 months of randomized treatment of either hydroxyurea or placebo. The researchers collected clinical and laboratory data every 6 months from patient medical records, including use and dosage of hydroxyurea, blood counts, clinical imaging, and frequency of sickle cell-related complications.

Of the 163 families that enrolled children in the follow-up study, 133 (82%) chose open-label hydroxyurea at the beginning of follow-up and every 6 months 65%-75% of the families reported that their children continued to take the drug. No patient developed intolerance or stopped permanently because of toxicity.

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