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Hot off the AAN Press: Novantrone Linked to Many More Cases of Leukemia

April 30, 2009

This morning at the American Academy of Neurology’s conference in Seattle, a report was released reporting that there is a significantly increased risk of leukemia from the drug mitoxantrone (Novantrone) in patients with progressive forms of multiple sclerosis (MS).

Novantrone has always had significant health risks.  When patients receive a dosage increase they must undergo regular cardiac monitoring due to the risk of cardiotoxicity and the threat of permanent heart damage.

Today’s report, presented by Dr. Vittorio Martinelli, MD of the University Vita-Salute in Milan, Italy, stated: In a retrospective study of 2,854 MS patients receiving the drug, 21 people developed leukemia (.74 percent) and out of those 21, eight patients died.

Previously standardized leukemia rates of Novantrone patients were published as .07 percent – .25 percent.

On average, leukemia was reported three years after the first dose of Novantrone and 18 months after drug treatment ended.  Number of treatments as well as cumulative dose of the drug seemed to heighten leukemia risk.   People developing leukemia had an average of 8.6 doses while those not contracting the disease averaged 7.2 doses.

Dr. Martinelli stressed that, “It is vital that all MS patients treated with mitozantrone undergo prolonged and careful hematological follow-up to check for acute leukemia”.

We have read from a few of you in the comment section on various blog postings the reality of these risks and again offer our condolences.

Novantrone is a powerful drug and as this report suggests it has powerful side effects.  Just like any other treatment for MS, one should assess the risk to benefit ratio for your personal situation.  Once any drug regiment is started it is our responsibility (to ourselves and to our families) to actively follow-up with recommended health screenings.

I know for me, Novantrone was a risk I was willing to take (because of my steep decline at the time).  Whether or not I would be the same today without it I can’t say.  I will, however, make sure I’m getting the recommended blood work done…next week!

Live from the AAN, this is Trevis Gleason signing off.

Wishing you and your family the best of health.



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[...] Multiple Sclerosis and MS resources for patients and their families to get reports, media, clinicial trial updates, medical research, lifestyle articles, daily management suggestions and tips, ms drug pipeline, current and future … See original here: Novantrone Linked to Many More Cases of Leukemia | MS News Today [...]

Novantrone Linked to Many More Cases of Leukemia | MS News Today | The Cancer and You NetworkMay 04 09 at 7:12 am

I only made it one year on Novantrone/mitoxantrone before it decreased my heart function so I had to quit – thank goodness! And the drug did nothing to help my MS, continued to deteriorate for another 10 months, until I needed a wheelchair. Then I found a prescription medication, Low Dose Naltrexone. Escaped the chair, had great recovery, and that was 5 years ago. Thousands of others have gotten better too from MS and other immune system disorders. This deserves research!!

I have gathered all the info I can to help educate patients, and let them know they have a chance!


SammyJo Wilkinson added this on May 02 09 at 8:36 am

Why is it that the US FDA or Europe’s EMEA have not REVISED their published figures for leukemia?
Or issued a warning on youtube as they’ve done recently for other MS drugs?
Is the FDA & EMEA showing their financial bias or ties to big pharma?

Wendell added this on Feb 23 10 at 5:28 pm

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