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Oral Azacitidine Benefits Some Older Adults With AML

TUESDAY, Dec. 29, 2020 -- For older patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) who are in remission after chemotherapy, those receiving maintenance therapy with the oral formulation of azacitidine (CC-486) versus placebo had longer overall and relapse-free survival, according to a study published in the Dec. 24 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Andrew H. Wei, M.B., B.S., Ph.D., from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues conducted a phase 3 randomized trial of CC-486 as maintenance therapy for patients with AML in first remission after intensive chemotherapy. A total of 472 patients aged 55 years and older who were in complete remission and were not candidates for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation were randomly assigned to receive either CC-486 or placebo once daily for 14 days per 28-day cycle (238 and 234 patients, respectively).

The researchers observed significantly longer median overall survival from the time of randomization with CC-486 versus placebo (24.7 versus 14.8 months). The corresponding median relapse-free survival was also significantly longer (10.2 versus 4.8 months). In most subgroups defined according to baseline characteristics, similar benefits of CC-486 were seen with respect to overall and relapse-free survival. During CC-486 treatment, overall health-related quality of life was preserved.

"Despite demonstrable survival advantages with CC-486 maintenance therapy, the risk of eventual relapse and death from AML remains problematic," the authors write. "Whether CC-486 may benefit patients with AML when it is used in other clinical contexts requires further investigation."

The study was funded by Celgene (a wholly owned subsidiary of Bristol Myers Squibb), which manufactures azacitidine.

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