New Multiple Myeloma Drug Shows Promising Results In Trial


pills spilling from bottleThere may be a new drug with promising recovery results for multiple myeloma patients.

It’s called daratumumab. During a recent clinical trial, of the patients who took the drug, 43 percent didn’t see any trace of the rare blood cancer afterwards compared to the 19 percent who took a standard drug duo.

With daratumumab, the risk of dying or advancing the cancer decreased by 63 percent over 13.5 months, according to the study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

For each of the patients, at some point, the cancer didn’t respond to previous treatment or returned altogether. The study’s researchers say the drug’s results are “unprecedented.”

“It is very likely that [this regimen] will be rapidly adopted by practicing physicians,” said Dr. Meletios Dimopoulo, the study’s lead researcher and professor at the National and Kapodistrian University in Greece.

According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, about 48 percent of multiple myeloma patients survive five years after diagnosis. After treatment, usually, the cancer makes a comeback.

African Americans are at the most risk of developing multiple myeloma, experts say. It’s twice as common in African Americans than in whites, according to the American Cancer Society.

“We need new drug classes that work differently from one another,” Dr. Vincent Rajkumar, cancer specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, said about daratumumab, which is sold as Darzalex. It costs about $5,900 per dose.

Daratumumab, experts say, works to kill the cancer cells and build up the immune system’s way of attacking those cells. However, one of the many side effects of the drug is lowering the count of blood cells – which leaves patients susceptible to infections, anemia and bleeding.

It’s best to consult a physician before adding this drug to the treatment plan.

“I have no doubt this [regimen] will significantly extend progression-free survival for myeloma patients,” Rajkumar said.