The International Myeloma Foundation says the news report must be viewed within the context of a complex study, and within the context of newer, more positive experience with thalidomide.
The news report is based on a study published in the March 9th issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The study is very specific in its focus, which concerns the impact of thalidomide on patients who have been treated with the intense therapy program including induction, tandem transplantation and then consolidation therapy. In this specific setting the study found that the addition of thalidomide as a single agent does not improve overall long-term survival. However, even in this context the study found that, "thalidomide increased the frequency of complete responses and extended event-free survival."
Beyond this study, the International Myeloma Foundation wants to remind you that thalidomide has proven very effective as an up front treatment and has virtually replaced the often-difficult VAD regimen as the preferred induction regimen for patients headed for transplant. Thalidomide has also worked for many patients with relapsed/refractory disease that has stopped responding to other therapies, extending survival.
There is also promising research looking at the use of thalidomide in combination with other novel agents and traditional chemotherapies, both in the up-front and relapsed/refractory settings.
The International Myeloma Foundation remains encouraged by the extensive body of positive clinical experience and promising research showing the value of thalidomide for myeloma patients, and by emerging data indicating that as more patients use thalidomide over a longer period of time, there will be a positive impact on survival.