Increased Reports of Serious Blood Clots with Use of Leukemia Drug Iclusig

Drug Alerts , News / October 3, 2016

The FDA is investigating an increasing frequency of reports of serious and life-threatening blood clots and severe narrowing of blood vessels (arteries and veins) of patients taking the leukemia chemotherapy drug Iclusig (ponatinib).

Data from clinical trials and postmarket adverse event reports show that serious adverse events have occurred in patients treated with Iclusig, including heart attacks resulting in death, worsening coronary artery disease, stroke narrowing or large arteries of the brain, severe narrowing of blood vessels in the extremities, and the need for urgent surgical procedures to restore blood flow. The FDA is actively working to further evaluate these adverse events and will notify the public when more information is available.

Iclusig is a prescription drug used to treat adults diagnosed with chronic phase, accelerated phase, or blast phase chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) or Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), who are no longer benefiting from previous treatment or who did not tolerate other treatment.

At the time of Iclusig’s approval in December 2012, the drug label contained information about the risks of blood clots in the Boxed Warning and Warnings and Precautions sections. In clinical trials conducted before approval, serious arterial blood clots occurred in 8% of Iclusig-treated patients, and blood clots in the veins occurred in 3% of Iclusig-treated patients. In the most recent clinical trial data submitted by the manufacturer to the FDA, at least 20% of all participants treated with Iclusig have developed blood clots or narrowing of blood vessels.

Healthcare professionals should consider for each patient, whether the benefits of Iclusig treatment are likely to exceed the risks of treatment. Patients taking Iclusig should seek immediate medical attention if they experience symptoms suggesting a heart attack such as chest pain or pressure, pain in their arms, back, neck or jaw, or shortness of breath; or symptoms of a stroke such as numbness or weakness on one side of the body, trouble talking, severe headache, or dizziness.

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