Active Substance: lenalidomide
Common Name: lenalidomide
ATC Code: L04AX04
Marketing Authorisation Holder: Celgene Europe Ltd
Active Substance: lenalidomide
Authorisation Date: 2007-06-14
Therapeutic Area: Multiple Myeloma
Pharmacotherapeutic Group: Immunosuppressants
Revlimid in combination with dexamethasone is indicated for the treatment of multiple myeloma in adult patients who have received at least one prior therapy.
Revlimid is indicated for the treatment of patients with transfusion-dependent anaemia due to low- or intermediate-1-risk myelodysplastic syndromes associated with an isolated deletion 5q cytogenetic abnormality when other therapeutic options are insufficient or inadequate.
What is Revlimid?
Revlimid is a medicine that contains the active substance lenalidomide. It is available as capsules (2.5 mg, 5 mg, 7.5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg and 25 mg).
What is Revlimid used for?
Revlimid is an anticancer medicine. It is used in combination with dexamethasone (an anti-inflammatory medicine) to treat adults with multiple myeloma whose disease has been treated at least once in the past. Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow.
Revlimid is also used in patients with transfusion-dependent anaemia (low red-blood-cell counts that are severe enough to require blood transfusions) due to myelodysplastic syndromes (a group of bone-marrow disorders that can cause anaemia). In some cases, myelodysplastic syndromes can lead to acute myeloid leukaemia (AML, a type of cancer affecting white blood cells). Revlimid is used in patients who have a genetic abnormality (called deletion 5q) and are at a lower risk of AML, and it is used when other treatments are not adequate.
Because the number of patients with these diseases is low, the diseases are considered ‘rare’, and Revlimid was designated an ‘orphan medicine’ (a medicine used in rare diseases) on 12 December 2003 and 8 March 2004.
The medicine can only be obtained with a prescription.
How is Revlimid used?
Treatment with Revlimid must be monitored by doctors who have experience in the use of anticancer medicines.
Revlimid is taken in repeated 28 day cycles: the patient takes the medicine once a day for 21 days at around the same time each day, followed by seven days off the medicine.
In the treatment of multiple myeloma, the recommended dose of Revlimid is 25 mg a day. Dexamethasone should be taken at a dose of 40 mg once a day on days 1 to 4, 9 to 12 and 17 to 20 of the first four cycles, and on days 1 to 4 thereafter.
In the treatment of myelodysplastic syndromes, the recommended dose of Revlimid is 10 mg a day.
The dose of Revlimid should be reduced or treatment interrupted depending on the patient’s condition and the levels of platelets (components that help the blood to clot) and of neutrophils (a type of white blood cell). A lower dose should also be used in patients who have moderate or more severe problems with their kidneys. For more information, see the summary of product characteristics (also part of the EPAR).
How does Revlimid work?
The active substance in Revlimid, lenalidomide, is an immunomodulating agent. This means that it affects the activity of the immune system (the body’s natural defences). Lenalidomide works in a number of different ways: it blocks the development of abnormal cells, prevents the growth of blood vessels within tumours and also stimulates some of the specialised cells of the immune system to attack the abnormal cells.
How has Revlimid been studied?
Revlimid has been studied in two main studies involving 704 patients with multiple myeloma. In both studies, Revlimid was compared with placebo (a dummy treatment), both taken in combination with dexamethasone. The main measure of effectiveness was how long it took until the disease got worse.
Two main studies have also been carried out involving a total of 353 patients with lower risk myelodysplastic syndromes. The first study did not compare Revlimid with any other treatment, while the second study compared it with placebo. The main measure of effectiveness was the number of patients who did not need a blood transfusion for at least 56 days in the first study and 182 days in the second study.
What benefit has Revlimid shown during the studies?
Revlimid was more effective than placebo at preventing a worsening of multiple myeloma. The results of the two studies taken together showed that, on average, it took 48.3 weeks for the disease to get worse in patients taking Revlimid, compared with 20.1 weeks in those taking placebo.
In patients with lower-risk myelodysplastic syndromes, 97 out of 148 patients (66%) taking 10 mg Revlimid in the first study did not need a blood transfusion for at least 56 days. In the second study, 38 out of 69 patients (55%) taking 10 mg Revlimd did not need a blood transfusion for at least 182 days, compared with 4 out of 67 (6%) taking placebo.
What is the risk associated with Revlimid?
The most common side effects with Revlimid for the treatment of multiple myeloma are fatigue (tiredness; 43.9%), neutropenia (low white-blood-cell count; 42.2%), constipation (40.5%), diarrhoea (38.5%), muscle cramp (33.4%), anaemia (low red-blood-cell counts; 31.4%), thrombocytopenia (low platelet counts; 21.5%), and rash (21.2%). The most common side effects with Revlimid for the treatment of myelodysplastic syndromes are neutropenia (76.8%), thrombocytopenia (46.4%), diarrhoea (34.8%), constipation (19.6%), nausea (feeling sick; 19.6%), pruritus (itching; 25.4%) rash (18.1%), fatigue (tiredness; 18.1%) and muscle spasms (16.7%). The most serious side effects with Revlimid are neutropenia and venous thromboembolism (problems due to the formation of blood clots in the veins). For the full list of all side effects reported with Revlimid, see the package leaflet.
Lenalidomide is expected to be harmful to the unborn child. Therefore, Revlimid must not be used in women who are pregnant. It must also not be used in women who could become pregnant, unless they take all of the necessary steps to ensure that they are not pregnant before treatment and that they do not become pregnant during or soon after treatment. Revlimid must not be used by people who are hypersensitive (allergic) to lenalidomide or any of the other ingredients.
Why has Revlimid been approved?
The CHMP decided that Revlimid’s benefits are greater than its risks and recommended that it be given marketing authorisation.
What measures are being taken to ensure the safe use of Revlimid?
The company that makes Revlimid will provide a letter and educational kits for healthcare workers, and brochures for patients, explaining the fact that it is expected to be harmful to the unborn child and detailing the steps that need to be taken for the medicine to be used safely. It will also supply cards for patients to ensure that all appropriate safety measures have been taken by each patient. Each Member State will also ensure that educational materials and patient cards are provided to prescribers and patients.
The company has also set up a pregnancy prevention programme in each Member State and will collect information on whether the medicine is used outside its approved indication. The boxes containing Revlimid capsules also include a warning stating that lenalidomide is expected to be harmful to the unborn child.
In addition, the company will carry out a study in patients with myelodysplastic syndromes to gather further safety data.
Other information about Revlimid
The European Commission granted a marketing authorisation valid throughout the European Union for Revlimid on 14 June 2007.
For more information about treatment with Revlimid, read the package leaflet (also part of the EPAR) or contact your doctor or pharmacist.
Source: European Medicines Agency
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