Multiple Myeloma Drug Combo Yields Unprecedented Results

Carfilzomib added to 2-drug combination produces longer remission period.

Carfilzomib added to 2-drug combination produces longer remission period.

The addition of carfilzomib to the currently accepted 2-drug combination for the treatment of multiple myeloma yielded significantly better results than the 2 drugs alone, a recent study found.

In a study published online December 6, 2014 in the New England Journal of Medicine, 792 patients with relapsed multiple myeloma from 20 countries showed an unprecedented length of time free of disease progression.

"Patients taking three drugs -- carfilzomib, lenalidomide and dexamethasone -- stayed free of disease progression for 26 months on average," lead investigator Keith Stewart, MD, said in a press release. "No one has reported anything like this before for relapsed multiple myeloma."

The addition of carfilzomib to lenalidomide and dexamethasone generated 8.7 months of longer remission time, which is approximately 50% longer than the two-drug combination alone (26.3 months versus 17.6 months).

The number of patients who responded to treatment was 87.4% in the group who took the 3-drug combination compared with 66.9% who took the 2-drug combination. Additionally, 31.8% of patients who took the 3-drug combination had no detectable disease compared with 9.3% in the 2-drug group.

"Importantly, patients on the three-drug cocktail also reported a better quality of life despite a higher intensity of treatment," Dr. Stewart said. "Survival of multiple myeloma has almost doubled over the last decade, and the very positive outcomes from use of the three-drug combination will likely further improve outcomes. This is a nice story to tell."

The frequency of most side effects were equal in both treatment groups, while patients who were surveyed indicated they felt better on the 3-drug combination.

"We hope the results of this trial will lead to approval of this treatment combination in patients with relapsed multiple myeloma worldwide," Dr. Stewart said.