GlaxoSmithKline’s elthrombopag a “major scientific advance”

Posted on 19/06/2006 in Pharmaceutical Company Product News

GlaxoSmithKline has revealed the latest results for eltrombopag, a drug which “significantly improves” blood platelet counts.

Elthrombopag was used on patients with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) – a condition that reduces the platelet counts in the blood with no discernable cause, making bleeding more difficult to halt, causing nose bleeds, spontaneous bruising and blotchiness of the skin.

In new phase II trials presented at the annual meeting of the European Haematology Association in Amsterdam, patients receiving 50mg and 75mg of elthrombopag reached the primary endpoint of having a blood platelet count of more than 50,000 per millilitre in 70 per cent and 81 per cent of patients respectively. In comparison, 11 per cent of patients using the placebo met their targets.

Adrian Newland, lead study investigator and professor of haematology at Queen Mary, University of London, commented: “Results demonstrating the beneficial effect of an oral therapy such as eltrombopag, which may potentially work by stimulating the production of platelets, is very exciting and a major scientific advance.”

“This is highly encouraging news for patients who are in real need of new therapies to combat ITP because current treatment options such as steroids or removal of the spleen all have significant limitations, particularly in terms of side effects,” he added.

According to the ITP Support Association, ITP is an autoimmune blood disorder with approximately 450 new cases diagnosed each year in the UK. In children it frequently follows a viral infection.

The association says 70 per cent of children experience a short-lasting form of the disease which remits after a year. In adults, it is more likely to become chronic.