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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 160

of 'Overview of neurologic complications of non-platinum cancer chemotherapy'

Thalomid (Thalidomide) capsules: a review of the first 18 months of spontaneous postmarketing adverse event surveillance, including off-label prescribing.
Clark TE, Edom N, Larson J, Lindsey LJ
Drug Saf. 2001;24(2):87.
The sedative/hypnotic thalidomide was withdrawn from the worldwide market nearly 40 years ago, because of its teratogenic and neurotoxic effects. Thalidomide was later found to very effectively suppress erythema nodosum leprosum (ENL). The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Thalomid (thalidomide) capsules for the acute treatment of the cutaneous manifestations of moderate to severe ENL. Thalidomide is currently under investigation for the treatment of a wide variety of diseases, including conditions thought to have an inflammatory or immune basis, malignancies and complications of infection with HIV. Interest in the potential anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory and anti- angiogenic effects of thalidomide has resulted in off-label use of prescription thalidomide. During the first 18 months of spontaneous postmarketing adverse event surveillance for Thalomid, 1210 spontaneous postmarketing adverse event reports were received for patients treated with prescription thalidomide for all therapeutic indications, including off-label use. The most common adverse events spontaneously reported would have been expected on the basis of the current Thalomid labelling/product information. The current labelling/product information reflects what was known about the risks associated with thalidomide therapy in limited patient populations at the time of the approval of Thalomid. With the postmarketing use of thalidomide in populations other than patients with ENL, it becomes increasingly important to identify patient groups that may be particularly susceptible to specific adverse drug effects and to identify conditions under which specific adverse events may be more likely to occur. Oncology patients may represent a patient population with increased susceptibility to thalidomide-associated adverse effects, including thromboembolic events. Consideration of the spontaneous postmarketing safety surveillance data may help to identify and characterise factors associated with increased risk in this and other patient groups. Serious unexpected adverse events reported with sufficient frequency to signal previously undetected product-event associations for which there may potentially be plausible evidence to suggest a causal relationship have included seizures and Stevens-Johnson syndrome. The potential effects of thalidomide on wound healing are also being closely monitored. Premarketing human clinical trials of drug products are inherently limited in their ability to detect adverse events. Broader postmarketing experience with thalidomide in more varied patient populations and more experience in the setting of long term thalidomide use will increase our ability to detect rare adverse events and to identify signals that may need to be evaluated in more controlled settings.
Celgene Corporation, Drug Safety Department, Warren, New Jersey 07059, USA. tclark@celgene.com