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1.  Comparison of Pegfilgrastim Prescribing Practice to National Guidelines at a University Hospital Outpatient Oncology Clinic 
Journal of Oncology Practice  2012;9(4):203-206.
At one institution, approximately one half of primary prophylaxis pegfilgrastim was not indicated per published guidelines, highlighting a need to change prescribing practices, to reduce costs without harming patients.
Pegfilgrastim reduces the risk of febrile neutropenia (FN) and is indicated as primary prophylaxis when the risk of FN approaches 20% in each chemotherapy cycle. There have been few reports evaluating the appropriate use of pegfilgrastim in comparison with published guidelines. We sought to determine possible over-prescribing as a way to maintain quality and reduce cost.
A retrospective medical record review was performed to determine whether pegfilgrastim was used appropriately in the primary prophylaxis of FN in chemotherapy regimens with less than 20% risk of FN. Patients were identified by means of administrative records, and data were collected from the electronic medical record at an academic cancer center outpatient clinic serving approximately 13,000 patients per year.
Two hundred ninety-two patients were identified, of whom 124 were initially evaluated and 88 were included. Thirty-three patients (37%) had no risk factors, and 20 (22%) had one risk factor that would justify pegfilgrastim use with low- or intermediate-risk regimens. The most common cancer diagnosis of patients with zero or one risk factor was lymphoma, and the most common regimens with overuse of pegfilgrastim were doxorubicin-bleomycin-vinblastine-dacarbazine (ABVD) and ritux-imab-cyclophosphamide-doxorubicin-vincristine-prednisone (R-CHOP). One hundred eighty-four pegfilgrastim doses (46%) were classified as avoidable. The cost to the health system for unnecessary drug use was $712,264 in 1 year.
At one institution, approximately one half of all primary prophylaxis pegfilgrastim was not indicated per published guidelines. This represents an excellent opportunity to change prescribing practices to reduce costs without harming patients.
PMCID: PMC3710170  PMID: 23942922
2.  Pegfilgrastim prophylaxis is associated with a lower risk of hospitalization of cancer patients than filgrastim prophylaxis: a retrospective United States claims analysis of granulocyte colony-stimulating factors (G-CSF) 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:11.
Myelosuppressive chemotherapy can lead to dose-limiting febrile neutropenia. Prophylactic use of recombinant human G-CSF such as daily filgrastim and once-per-cycle pegfilgrastim may reduce the incidence of febrile neutropenia. This comparative study examined the effect of pegfilgrastim versus daily filgrastim on the risk of hospitalization.
This retrospective United States claims analysis utilized 2004–2009 data for filgrastim- and pegfilgrastim-treated patients receiving chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) or breast, lung, ovarian, or colorectal cancers. Cycles in which pegfilgrastim or filgrastim was administered within 5 days from initiation of chemotherapy (considered to represent prophylaxis) were pooled for analysis. Neutropenia-related hospitalization and other healthcare encounters were defined with a “narrow” criterion for claims with an ICD-9 code for neutropenia and with a “broad” criterion for claims with an ICD-9 code for neutropenia, fever, or infection. Odds ratios (OR) for hospitalization and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated by generalized estimating equation (GEE) models and adjusted for patient, tumor, and treatment characteristics. Per-cycle healthcare utilization and costs were examined for cycles with pegfilgrastim or filgrastim prophylaxis.
We identified 3,535 patients receiving G-CSF prophylaxis, representing 12,056 chemotherapy cycles (11,683 pegfilgrastim, 373 filgrastim). The mean duration of filgrastim prophylaxis in the sample was 4.8 days. The mean duration of pegfilgrastim prophylaxis in the sample was 1.0 day, consistent with the recommended dosage of pegfilgrastim - a single injection once per chemotherapy cycle. Cycles with prophylactic pegfilgrastim were associated with a decreased risk of neutropenia-related hospitalization (narrow definition: OR = 0.43, 95% CI: 0.16–1.13; broad definition: OR = 0.38, 95% CI: 0.24–0.59) and all-cause hospitalization (OR = 0.50, 95% CI: 0.35–0.72) versus cycles with prophylactic filgrastim. For neutropenia-related utilization by setting of care, there were more ambulatory visits and hospitalizations per cycle associated with filgrastim prophylaxis than with pegfilgrastim prophylaxis. Mean per-cycle neutropenia-related costs were also higher with prophylactic filgrastim than with prophylactic pegfilgrastim.
In this comparative effectiveness study, pegfilgrastim prophylaxis was associated with a reduced risk of neutropenia-related or all-cause hospitalization relative to filgrastim prophylaxis.
PMCID: PMC3559272  PMID: 23298389
3.  Countering the Misincentivization of Cancer Medicine by Real-Time Personal Professional Education 
In the United States, public and private payer misincentivization of medical care and the invisibility of costs to the consumers of that care have conspired to create unsustainable growth in health care expenditure that undermines our economy, diminishes our productivity, and limits our international competitiveness. Cancer medicine provides a small yet salient example. On average, Medicare reimburses oncologists 6% above the average acquisition price for essential anticancer agents and supportive therapies. The costs of these agents vary across a stunning five orders of magnitude, from a few dollars to more than $400,000 per course of treatment. The profitability to providers varies across approximately four orders of magnitude, from cents to thousands of dollars per treatment. National guidelines (National Comprehensive Cancer Network [NCCN], American Society of Clinical Oncology [ASCO]) help providers select the most effective therapies without regard for cost.
We created an oncologist-to-oncologist professional education program to help cancer physicians optimally use expensive long-acting white blood cell growth factors, in accordance with these national guidelines. We then compared their use across a population of approximately 97,000 Medicare members before and after our intervention. Baseline use was recorded over two consecutive quarters (2009 to 2010). In March 2010, our oncologists initiated real-time discussions with the oncologists of 22 separate groups if these agents were ordered for use with regimens that placed patients at less than 10% risk of febrile neutropenia, according to NCCN guidelines. Neither NCCN nor ASCO recommend the routine use of these agents in this low-risk group. The care of 82 such patients was thoroughly discussed in the following 6 months.
The monthly costs for these agents decreased by more than 50% by the final month of our intervention, although savings began immediately, reducing costs by more than $150,000 per quarter. No episode of febrile neutropenia was recorded in any patient in the intervention group. These savings generalize to the entire Medicare population at $30 million each month.
We conclude that personal, oncologist-to-oncologist, real-time professional education will favorably modify oncologic prescribing behavior and can do so with significant immediate savings at no risk to patients with cancer.
PMCID: PMC3457828
4.  Information from Pharmaceutical Companies and the Quality, Quantity, and Cost of Physicians' Prescribing: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(10):e1000352.
Geoff Spurling and colleagues report findings of a systematic review looking at the relationship between exposure to promotional material from pharmaceutical companies and the quality, quantity, and cost of prescribing. They fail to find evidence of improvements in prescribing after exposure, and find some evidence of an association with higher prescribing frequency, higher costs, or lower prescribing quality.
Pharmaceutical companies spent $57.5 billion on pharmaceutical promotion in the United States in 2004. The industry claims that promotion provides scientific and educational information to physicians. While some evidence indicates that promotion may adversely influence prescribing, physicians hold a wide range of views about pharmaceutical promotion. The objective of this review is to examine the relationship between exposure to information from pharmaceutical companies and the quality, quantity, and cost of physicians' prescribing.
Methods and Findings
We searched for studies of physicians with prescribing rights who were exposed to information from pharmaceutical companies (promotional or otherwise). Exposures included pharmaceutical sales representative visits, journal advertisements, attendance at pharmaceutical sponsored meetings, mailed information, prescribing software, and participation in sponsored clinical trials. The outcomes measured were quality, quantity, and cost of physicians' prescribing. We searched Medline (1966 to February 2008), International Pharmaceutical Abstracts (1970 to February 2008), Embase (1997 to February 2008), Current Contents (2001 to 2008), and Central (The Cochrane Library Issue 3, 2007) using the search terms developed with an expert librarian. Additionally, we reviewed reference lists and contacted experts and pharmaceutical companies for information. Randomized and observational studies evaluating information from pharmaceutical companies and measures of physicians' prescribing were independently appraised for methodological quality by two authors. Studies were excluded where insufficient study information precluded appraisal. The full text of 255 articles was retrieved from electronic databases (7,185 studies) and other sources (138 studies). Articles were then excluded because they did not fulfil inclusion criteria (179) or quality appraisal criteria (18), leaving 58 included studies with 87 distinct analyses. Data were extracted independently by two authors and a narrative synthesis performed following the MOOSE guidelines. Of the set of studies examining prescribing quality outcomes, five found associations between exposure to pharmaceutical company information and lower quality prescribing, four did not detect an association, and one found associations with lower and higher quality prescribing. 38 included studies found associations between exposure and higher frequency of prescribing and 13 did not detect an association. Five included studies found evidence for association with higher costs, four found no association, and one found an association with lower costs. The narrative synthesis finding of variable results was supported by a meta-analysis of studies of prescribing frequency that found significant heterogeneity. The observational nature of most included studies is the main limitation of this review.
With rare exceptions, studies of exposure to information provided directly by pharmaceutical companies have found associations with higher prescribing frequency, higher costs, or lower prescribing quality or have not found significant associations. We did not find evidence of net improvements in prescribing, but the available literature does not exclude the possibility that prescribing may sometimes be improved. Still, we recommend that practitioners follow the precautionary principle and thus avoid exposure to information from pharmaceutical companies.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
A prescription drug is a medication that can be supplied only with a written instruction (“prescription”) from a physician or other licensed healthcare professional. In 2009, 3.9 billion drug prescriptions were dispensed in the US alone and US pharmaceutical companies made US$300 billion in sales revenue. Every year, a large proportion of this revenue is spent on drug promotion. In 2004, for example, a quarter of US drug revenue was spent on pharmaceutical promotion. The pharmaceutical industry claims that drug promotion—visits from pharmaceutical sales representatives, advertisements in journals and prescribing software, sponsorship of meetings, mailed information—helps to inform and educate healthcare professionals about the risks and benefits of their products and thereby ensures that patients receive the best possible care. Physicians, however, hold a wide range of views about pharmaceutical promotion. Some see it as a useful and convenient source of information. Others deny that they are influenced by pharmaceutical company promotion but claim that it influences other physicians. Meanwhile, several professional organizations have called for tighter control of promotional activities because of fears that pharmaceutical promotion might encourage physicians to prescribe inappropriate or needlessly expensive drugs.
Why Was This Study Done?
But is there any evidence that pharmaceutical promotion adversely influences prescribing? Reviews of the research literature undertaken in 2000 and 2005 provide some evidence that drug promotion influences prescribing behavior. However, these reviews only partly assessed the relationship between information from pharmaceutical companies and prescribing costs and quality and are now out of date. In this study, therefore, the researchers undertake a systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic) to reexamine the relationship between exposure to information from pharmaceutical companies and the quality, quantity, and cost of physicians' prescribing.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers searched the literature for studies of licensed physicians who were exposed to promotional and other information from pharmaceutical companies. They identified 58 studies that included a measure of exposure to any type of information directly provided by pharmaceutical companies and a measure of physicians' prescribing behavior. They then undertook a “narrative synthesis,” a descriptive analysis of the data in these studies. Ten of the studies, they report, examined the relationship between exposure to pharmaceutical company information and prescribing quality (as judged, for example, by physician drug choices in response to clinical vignettes). All but one of these studies suggested that exposure to drug company information was associated with lower prescribing quality or no association was detected. In the 51 studies that examined the relationship between exposure to drug company information and prescribing frequency, exposure to information was associated with more frequent prescribing or no association was detected. Thus, for example, 17 out of 29 studies of the effect of pharmaceutical sales representatives' visits found an association between visits and increased prescribing; none found an association with less frequent prescribing. Finally, eight studies examined the relationship between exposure to pharmaceutical company information and prescribing costs. With one exception, these studies indicated that exposure to information was associated with a higher cost of prescribing or no association was detected. So, for example, one study found that physicians with low prescribing costs were more likely to have rarely or never read promotional mail or journal advertisements from pharmaceutical companies than physicians with high prescribing costs.
What Do These Findings Mean?
With rare exceptions, these findings suggest that exposure to pharmaceutical company information is associated with either no effect on physicians' prescribing behavior or with adverse affects (reduced quality, increased frequency, or increased costs). Because most of the studies included in the review were observational studies—the physicians in the studies were not randomly selected to receive or not receive drug company information—it is not possible to conclude that exposure to information actually causes any changes in physician behavior. Furthermore, although these findings provide no evidence for any net improvement in prescribing after exposure to pharmaceutical company information, the researchers note that it would be wrong to conclude that improvements do not sometimes happen. The findings support the case for reforms to reduce negative influence to prescribing from pharmaceutical promotion.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Wikipedia has pages on prescription drugs and on pharmaceutical marketing (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The UK General Medical Council provides guidelines on good practice in prescribing medicines
The US Food and Drug Administration provides information on prescription drugs and on its Bad Ad Program
Healthy Skepticism is an international nonprofit membership association that aims to improve health by reducing harm from misleading health information
The Drug Promotion Database was developed by the World Health Organization Department of Essential Drugs & Medicines Policy and Health Action International Europe to address unethical and inappropriate drug promotion
PMCID: PMC2957394  PMID: 20976098
5.  A single dose of pegfilgrastim compared with daily filgrastim for supporting neutrophil recovery in patients treated for low-to-intermediate risk acute myeloid leukemia: results from a randomized, double-blind, phase 2 trial 
BMC Cancer  2008;8:195.
Patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) are often neutropenic as a result of their disease. Furthermore, these patients typically experience profound neutropenia following induction and/or consolidation chemotherapy and this may result in serious, potentially life-threatening, infection. This randomized, double-blind, phase 2 clinical trial compared the efficacy and tolerability of pegfilgrastim with filgrastim for assisting neutrophil recovery following induction and consolidation chemotherapy for de novo AML in patients with low-to-intermediate risk cytogenetics.
Patients (n = 84) received one or two courses of standard induction chemotherapy (idarubicin + cytarabine), followed by one course of consolidation therapy (high-dose cytarabine) if complete remission was achieved. They were randomized to receive either single-dose pegfilgrastim 6 mg or daily filgrastim 5 μg/kg, beginning 24 hours after induction and consolidation chemotherapy.
The median time to recovery from severe neutropenia was 22.0 days for both pegfilgrastim (n = 42) and filgrastim (n = 41) groups during Induction 1 (difference 0.0 days; 95% CI: -1.9 to 1.9). During Consolidation, recovery occurred after a median of 17.0 days for pegfilgrastim versus 16.5 days for filgrastim (difference 0.5 days; 95% CI: -1.1 to 2.1). Therapeutic pegfilgrastim serum concentrations were maintained throughout neutropenia. Pegfilgrastim was well tolerated, with an adverse event profile similar to that of filgrastim.
These data suggest no clinically meaningful difference between a single dose of pegfilgrastim and multiple daily doses of filgrastim for shortening the duration of severe neutropenia following chemotherapy in de novo AML patients with low-to-intermediate risk cytogenetics.
Trial registration NCT00114764
PMCID: PMC2483721  PMID: 18616811
6.  Granulocyte colony-stimulating factors for febrile neutropenia prophylaxis following chemotherapy: systematic review and meta-analysis 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:404.
Febrile neutropenia (FN) occurs following myelosuppressive chemotherapy and is associated with morbidity, mortality, costs, and chemotherapy reductions and delays. Granulocyte colony-stimulating factors (G-CSFs) stimulate neutrophil production and may reduce FN incidence when given prophylactically following chemotherapy.
A systematic review and meta-analysis assessed the effectiveness of G-CSFs (pegfilgrastim, filgrastim or lenograstim) in reducing FN incidence in adults undergoing chemotherapy for solid tumours or lymphoma. G-CSFs were compared with no primary G-CSF prophylaxis and with one another. Nine databases were searched in December 2009. Meta-analysis used a random effects model due to heterogeneity.
Twenty studies compared primary G-CSF prophylaxis with no primary G-CSF prophylaxis: five studies of pegfilgrastim; ten of filgrastim; and five of lenograstim. All three G-CSFs significantly reduced FN incidence, with relative risks of 0.30 (95% CI: 0.14 to 0.65) for pegfilgrastim, 0.57 (95% CI: 0.48 to 0.69) for filgrastim, and 0.62 (95% CI: 0.44 to 0.88) for lenograstim. Overall, the relative risk of FN for any primary G-CSF prophylaxis versus no primary G-CSF prophylaxis was 0.51 (95% CI: 0.41 to 0.62). In terms of comparisons between different G-CSFs, five studies compared pegfilgrastim with filgrastim. FN incidence was significantly lower for pegfilgrastim than filgrastim, with a relative risk of 0.66 (95% CI: 0.44 to 0.98).
Primary prophylaxis with G-CSFs significantly reduces FN incidence in adults undergoing chemotherapy for solid tumours or lymphoma. Pegfilgrastim reduces FN incidence to a significantly greater extent than filgrastim.
PMCID: PMC3203098  PMID: 21943360
7.  Efficacy and safety of lipegfilgrastim versus pegfilgrastim: a randomized, multicenter, active-control phase 3 trial in patients with breast cancer receiving doxorubicin/docetaxel chemotherapy 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:386.
Lipegfilgrastim is a novel glyco-pegylated granulocyte-colony stimulating factor in development for neutropenia prophylaxis in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. This phase III, double-blind, randomized, active-controlled, noninferiority trial compared the efficacy and safety of lipegfilgrastim versus pegfilgrastim in chemotherapy-naïve breast cancer patients receiving doxorubicin/docetaxel chemotherapy.
Patients with high-risk stage II, III, or IV breast cancer and an absolute neutrophil count ≥1.5 × 109 cells/L were randomized to a single 6-mg subcutaneous injection of lipegfilgrastim (n = 101) or pegfilgrastim (n = 101) on day 2 of each 21-day chemotherapy cycle (4 cycles maximum). The primary efficacy endpoint was the duration of severe neutropenia during cycle 1.
Cycle 1: The mean duration of severe neutropenia for the lipegfilgrastim and pegfilgrastim groups was 0.7 and 0.8 days, respectively (λ = −0.218 [95% confidence interval: –0.498%, 0.062%], p = 0.126), and no severe neutropenia was observed in 56% and 49% of patients in the lipegfilgrastim and pegfilgrastim groups, respectively. All cycles: In the efficacy population, febrile neutropenia occurred in three pegfilgrastim-treated patients (all in cycle 1) and zero lipegfilgrastim-treated patients. Drug-related adverse events in the safety population were reported in 28% and 26% of patients i006E the lipegfilgrastim and pegfilgrastim groups, respectively.
This study demonstrates that lipegfilgrastim 6 mg is as effective as pegfilgrastim in reducing neutropenia in patients with breast cancer receiving myelosuppressive chemotherapy.
Trial Registration
Eudra EEACTA200901599910
The study protocol, two global amendments (Nos. 1 and 2), informed consent documents, and other appropriate study-related documents were reviewed and approved by the Ministry of Health of Ukraine Central Ethics Committee and local independent ethics committees (IECs).
PMCID: PMC3751756  PMID: 23945072
Neutropenia; Febrile neutropenia; Breast cancer; Recombinant granulocyte-colony stimulating factor; Lipegfilgrastim; Pegfilgrastim
8.  Feasibility of four cycles of docetaxel and cyclophosphamide every 14 days as an adjuvant regimen for breast cancer: A Wisconsin Oncology Network Study 
Clinical breast cancer  2013;14(3):205-211.
Dose-dense therapies have had a major impact on reducing toxicity and improving outcomes in breast cancer. A combination of docetaxel plus cyclophosphamide (TC) every 3 weeks has emerged as a common chemotherapy regimen used for treatment of node-negative or lower-risk node-positive breast cancer. We tested whether it is feasible to deliver TC on a dose-dense schedule, with therapy completed within 10 weeks.
We enrolled women with early stage breast cancer on a single-arm phase II study of adjuvant dose-dense TC (ddTC) through a regional oncology network. All women completed primary surgery prior to accrual and subsequent therapy with TC was deemed appropriate by the treating physician. Planned treatment was docetaxel 75 mg/m2 plus cyclophosphamide 600 mg/m2 every 2 weeks for 4 cycles with subcutaneous pegfilgrastim 6 mg administered 24-48 hours after the administration of each chemotherapy cycle.
Of 42 women enrolled, 41 were evaluable by prespecified criteria. Of these, 37 (90.2%) completed therapy within 10 weeks and 34 (83%) completed therapy at 8 weeks without dose modification. Rates of neuropathy were similar to that reported previously. The rate of neutropenic fever was low (2.5%). Rash and plantar/palmar erythrodythesia were common and reached grade 3 in four subjects (9.8%).
Dose-dense TC is feasible with tolerability profiles similar to standard TC and a low likelihood of neutropenic fever. This study supports further clinical development of this 8-week adjuvant chemotherapy regimen.
PMCID: PMC4000576  PMID: 24342730
chemotherapy; granulocyte-colony stimulating factor; pegfilgrastim
9.  Phase III placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized trial of pegfilgrastim to reduce the risk of febrile neutropenia in breast cancer patients receiving docetaxel/cyclophosphamide chemotherapy 
Supportive Care in Cancer  2015;23(4):1137-1143.
Pegfilgrastim is a pegylated form of filgrastim, a recombinant protein of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, that is used to reduce the risk of febrile neutropenia (FN). Here, we report the results of a phase III trial of pegfilgrastim in breast cancer patients receiving docetaxel and cyclophosphamide (TC) chemotherapy.
We conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial to determine the efficacy of pegfilgrastim in reducing the risk of FN in early-stage breast cancer patients. A total of 351 women (177 in the pegfilgrastim group and 174 in the placebo group) between 20 and 69 years of age with stage I–III invasive breast carcinoma who were to receive TC chemotherapy (docetaxel 75 mg/m2 and cyclophosphamide 600 mg/m2 every 3 weeks) as either neoadjuvant or adjuvant therapy were enrolled; 346 of these patients were treated with either pegfilgrastim (n = 173) or placebo (n = 173).
The incidence of FN was significantly lower in the pegfilgrastim group than in the placebo group (1.2 vs. 68.8 %, respectively; P < 0.001). In addition, patients in the pegfilgrastim group required less hospitalization and antibiotics for FN. Most adverse events were consistent with those expected for breast cancer subjects receiving TC chemotherapy.
Pegfilgrastim is safe and significantly reduces the incidence of FN in breast cancer patients.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00520-014-2597-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4381099  PMID: 25576433
Adjuvant therapy; Breast cancer; Febrile neutropenia; Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF); Pegfilgrastim; Docetaxel/cyclophosphamide therapy
10.  Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor use in a large British hospital: comparison with published experience 
Pharmacy Practice  2010;8(4):213-219.
Granulocyte colony-stimulating factors (G-CSF) are high-cost agents recommended as prophylaxis of febrile neutropenia or as adjunctive treatment of severe neutropenic sepsis. Their use in high-risk situations such as acute myeloid leukaemia, acute lymphocytic leukaemia, myelodysplastic syndrome and stem cell transplantation is also indicated.
This audit assessed the use of G-CSF within the Oncology and Haematology Service Delivery Unit at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ hospital (London, United Kingdom).
Patients who received G-CSF in April-May 2008 were identified retrospectively from the pharmacy labelling system, and chemotherapy front sheets, clinic letters and transplantation protocols were reviewed. Patients on lenograstim, in clinical trials or under non-approved chemotherapy protocols were excluded.
A total of 104 G-CSF treatments were assessed. The most commonly treated malignancy was breast cancer (41.3%), with docetaxel 100 mg/m 2 (34.6%) being the most frequent chemotherapy regimen. The chemotherapy intent was curative in 66.3 % of cases. Pegfilgrastim was used in 73.1 % of cases and primary prophylaxis was the most common indication (54.8%). Stem cell transplantation was the first indication to meet the audit criterion (93.3%), followed by primary prophylaxis (89.5%). There was a considerable nonadherence for secondary prophylaxis (6.7%).
The overall level of compliance with the audit criteria was 72.1%. The results for primary and secondary prophylaxis would have been different if FEC100 (fluorouracil, epirubicin, cyclophosphamide) and docetaxel 100 mg/m 2 had been considered a single chemotherapy regimen. Also, the lack of access to medical notes may have affected the reliability of the results for ‘therapeutic’ use.
PMCID: PMC4127058  PMID: 25126143
Hematopoietic Cell Growth Factors; Neutropenia; Clinical Audit; Drug Utilization Review; United Kingdom
11.  Women's Access and Provider Practices for the Case Management of Malaria during Pregnancy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(8):e1001688.
Jenny Hill and colleagues conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of women’s access and healthcare provider adherence to WHO case-management policy of malaria during pregnancy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
WHO recommends prompt diagnosis and quinine plus clindamycin for treatment of uncomplicated malaria in the first trimester and artemisinin-based combination therapies in subsequent trimesters. We undertook a systematic review of women's access to and healthcare provider adherence to WHO case management policy for malaria in pregnant women.
Methods and Findings
We searched the Malaria in Pregnancy Library, the Global Health Database, and the International Network for the Rational Use of Drugs Bibliography from 1 January 2006 to 3 April 2014, without language restriction. Data were appraised for quality and content. Frequencies of women's and healthcare providers' practices were explored using narrative synthesis and random effect meta-analysis. Barriers to women's access and providers' adherence to policy were explored by content analysis using NVivo. Determinants of women's access and providers' case management practices were extracted and compared across studies. We did not perform a meta-ethnography. Thirty-seven studies were included, conducted in Africa (30), Asia (4), Yemen (1), and Brazil (2). One- to three-quarters of women reported malaria episodes during pregnancy, of whom treatment was sought by >85%. Barriers to access among women included poor knowledge of drug safety, prohibitive costs, and self-treatment practices, used by 5%–40% of women. Determinants of women's treatment-seeking behaviour were education and previous experience of miscarriage and antenatal care. Healthcare provider reliance on clinical diagnosis and poor adherence to treatment policy, especially in first versus other trimesters (28%, 95% CI 14%–47%, versus 72%, 95% CI 39%–91%, p = 0.02), was consistently reported. Prescribing practices were driven by concerns over side effects and drug safety, patient preference, drug availability, and cost. Determinants of provider practices were access to training and facility type (public versus private). Findings were limited by the availability, quality, scope, and methodological inconsistencies of the included studies.
A systematic assessment of the extent of substandard case management practices of malaria in pregnancy is required, as well as quality improvement interventions that reach all providers administering antimalarial drugs in the community. Pregnant women need access to information on which anti-malarial drugs are safe to use at different stages of pregnancy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Malaria, a mosquito-borne parasite, kills about 600,000 people every year. Most of these deaths occur among young children in sub-Saharan Africa, but pregnant women and their unborn babies are also vulnerable to malaria. Infection with malaria during pregnancy can cause severe maternal anemia, miscarriages, and preterm births, and kills about 10,000 women and 100,000 children each year. Since 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that uncomplicated malaria (an infection that causes a fever but does not involve organ damage or severe anemia) should be treated with quinine and clindamycin if it occurs during the first trimester (first three months) of pregnancy and with an artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) if it occurs during the second or third trimester; ACTs should be used during the first trimester only if no other treatment is immediately available because their safety during early pregnancy has not been established. Since 2010, WHO has also recommended that clinical diagnosis of malaria should be confirmed before treatment by looking for parasites in patients' blood (parasitology).
Why Was This Study Done?
Prompt diagnosis and treatment of malaria in pregnancy in regions where malaria is always present (endemic regions) is extremely important, yet little is known about women's access to the recommended interventions for malaria in pregnancy or about healthcare providers' adherence to the WHO case management guidelines. In this systematic review and meta-analysis of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods studies, the researchers explore the factors that affect women's access to treatment and healthcare provider practices for case management of malaria during pregnancy. A systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic. Meta-analysis is a statistical method for combining the results of several studies. A qualitative study collects non-quantitative data such as reasons for refusing an intervention, whereas a qualitative study collects numerical data such as the proportion of a population receiving an intervention.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 37 studies (mostly conducted in Africa) that provided data on the range of healthcare providers visited, antimalarials used, and the factors influencing the choice of healthcare provider and medicines among pregnant women seeking treatment for malaria and/or the type and quality of diagnostic and case management services offered to them by healthcare providers. The researchers explored the data in these studies using narrative synthesis (which summarizes the results from several qualitative studies) and content analysis (which identifies key themes within texts). Among the studies that provided relevant data, one-quarter to three-quarters of women reported malaria episodes during pregnancy. More than 85% of the women who reported a malaria episode during pregnancy sought some form of treatment. Barriers to access to WHO-recommended treatment among women included poor knowledge about drug safety, and the use of self-treatment practices such as taking herbal remedies. Factors that affected the treatment-seeking behavior of pregnant women (“determinants”) included prior use of antenatal care, education, and previous experience of a miscarriage. Among healthcare providers, reliance on clinical diagnosis of malaria was consistently reported, as was poor adherence to the treatment policy. Specifically, 28% and 72% of healthcare providers followed the treatment guidelines for malaria during the first and second/third trimesters of pregnancy, respectively. Finally, the researchers report that concerns over side effects and drug safety, patient preference, drug availability, and cost drove the prescribing practices of the healthcare providers, and that the determinants of provider practices included the type (cadre) of heathcare worker, access to training, and whether they were based in a public or private facility.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings reveal important limitations in the implementation of the WHO policy on the treatment of malaria in pregnancy across many parts of Africa and in several other malaria endemic regions. Notably, they show that women do not uniformly seek care within the formal healthcare system and suggest that, when they do seek care, they may not be given the appropriate treatment because healthcare providers frequently fail to adhere to the WHO diagnostic and treatment guidelines. Although limited by the sparseness of data and by inconsistencies in study methodologies, these findings nevertheless highlight the need for further systematic assessments of the extent of substandard case management of malaria in pregnancy in malaria endemic countries, and the need to develop interventions to improve access to and delivery of quality case management of malaria among pregnant women.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
Information is available from the World Health Organization on malaria (in several languages) and on malaria in pregnancy; the 2010 Guidelines for the Treatment of Malaria are available; the World Malaria Report 2013 provides details of the current global malaria situation
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides information on malaria; a personal story about malaria in pregnancy is available
Information is available from the Roll Back Malaria Partnership on all aspects of global malaria control, including information on malaria in pregnancy
The Malaria in Pregnancy Consortium is undertaking research into the prevention and treatment of malaria in pregnancy and provides links to the consortium's publications and an online library on malaria in pregnancy
MedlinePlus provides links to additional information on malaria (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC4122360  PMID: 25093720
12.  Relapsing Acute Kidney Injury Associated with Pegfilgrastim 
We report a previously unrecognized complication of severe acute kidney injury (AKI) after the administration of pegfilgrastim with biopsy findings of mesangioproliferative glomerulonephritis (GN) and tubular necrosis. A 51-year-old white female with a history of breast cancer presented to the hospital with nausea, vomiting and dark urine 2 weeks after her third cycle of cyclophosphamide and docetaxel along with pegfilgrastim. She was found to have AKI with a serum creatinine (Cr) level of 6.9 mg/dl (baseline 0.7). At that time, her AKI was believed to be related to prior sepsis and/or daptomycin exposure that had occurred 5 weeks earlier. She was dialyzed for 6 weeks, after which her kidney function recovered to near baseline, but her urinalysis (UA) still showed 3.5 g protein/day and dysmorphic hematuria. Repeat blood cultures and serological workup (complement levels, hepatitis panel, ANA, ANCA and anti-GBM) were negative. She received her next cycle of chemotherapy with the same drugs. Two weeks later, she developed recurrent AKI with a Cr level of 6.7 mg/dl. A kidney biopsy showed mesangioproliferative GN, along with tubular epithelial damage and a rare electron-dense glomerular deposit. Pegfilgrastim was suspected as the inciting agent after exclusion of other causes. Her Cr improved to 1.4 mg/dl over the next 3 weeks, this time without dialysis. She had the next 2 cycles of chemotherapy without pegfilgrastim, with no further episodes of AKI. A literature review revealed a few cases of a possible association of filgrastim with mild self-limited acute GN. In conclusion, pegfilgrastim may cause GN with severe AKI. Milder cases may be missed and therefore routine monitoring of renal function and UA is important.
PMCID: PMC3542938  PMID: 23326257
Pegfilgrastim; Glomerulonephritis; Renal dysfunction
13.  Canadian supportive care recommendations for the management of neutropenia in patients with cancer 
Current Oncology  2008;15(1):9-23.
Hematologic toxicities of cancer chemotherapy are common and often limit the ability to provide treatment in a timely and dose-intensive manner. These limitations may be of utmost importance in the adjuvant and curative intent settings. Hematologic toxicities may result in febrile neutropenia, infections, fatigue, and bleeding, all of which may lead to additional complications and prolonged hospitalization. The older cancer patient and patients with significant comorbidities may be at highest risk of neutropenic complications. Colony-stimulating factors (csfs) such as filgrastim and pegfilgrastim can effectively attenuate most of the neutropenic consequences of chemotherapy, improve the ability to continue chemotherapy on the planned schedule, and minimize the risk of febrile neutropenia and infectious morbidity and mortality. The present consensus statement reviews the use of csfs in the management of neutropenia in patients with cancer and sets out specific recommendations based on published international guidelines tailored to the specifics of the Canadian practice landscape. We review existing international guidelines, the indications for primary and secondary prophylaxis, the importance of maintaining dose intensity, and the use of csfs in leukemia, stem-cell transplantation, and radiotherapy. Specific disease-related recommendations are provided related to breast cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, lung cancer, and gastrointestinal cancer. Finally, csf dosing and schedules, duration of therapy, and associated acute and potential chronic toxicities are examined.
PMCID: PMC2259432  PMID: 18317581
Canadian recommendations; neutropenia; febrile neutropenia; supportive care; colony-stimulating factors; chemotherapy-induced neutropenia; safety
14.  Lessons from the Leucovorin Shortages Between 2009 and 2012 in a Medicare Advantage Population: Where Do We Go from Here? 
American Health & Drug Benefits  2014;7(5):264-270.
Three distinct shortages of the generic drug leucovorin, a reduced form of folic acid used in several chemotherapy regimens, were reported by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) between 2008 and 2014. Levoleucovorin, an alternative therapy to leucovorin, failed to demonstrate superiority over leucovorin in clinical trials and is substantially more expensive.
To calculate the impact of the leucovorin shortages on primary treatment costs to patients and a health plan, and to present strategies for health plans to deal with future drug shortages.
This retrospective descriptive study was conducted using Humana's Medicare Advantage prescription drug plan administrative claims database between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2012. A total of 1542 patients with at least 1 medical or pharmacy claim for either leucovorin or levoleucovorin during the first 3 months of the respective plan year (between 2009 and 2012) who had continuous enrollment for the entirety of the same plan year, were included in this study. Trends in primary treatment costs—defined as the drug cost of leucovorin or levoleucovorin—over the 4-year evaluation period were assessed. The mean annual patient out-of-pocket (OOP) costs and the mean plan-paid per member per month (PMPM) costs were also calculated.
The percentage of patients receiving leucovorin decreased annually, with a 15.8% drop from 2010 to 2011. This reduction was accompanied by a 6.6% increase in patients receiving levoleucovorin. The mean annual patient OOP costs were $167 to $714 higher for levoleucovorin than for leucovorin. Similarly, the mean plan-paid PMPM costs were higher (up to $1667 PMPM) for levoleucovorin than for leucovorin. The aggregate costs for the 2 drugs increased steadily, including the patient OOP costs and the plan-paid PMPM costs. The most prominent cost increase occurred between 2010 and 2011, with a 3.8-fold increase in patient OOP costs and a 5-fold increase in the plan-paid PMPM costs. This corresponded to the timing of the second leucovorin shortage announcement by the FDA in June 2010.
Health plans can play an important role in minimizing the impact of drug shortages by identifying the affected patient population, identifying therapeutic alternatives, assisting providers with alternative sourcing strategies when possible, adjusting approval processes, and implementing quality management or pathway programs.
PMCID: PMC4163778  PMID: 25237422
15.  Effects of pegylated G-CSF on immune cell number and function in patients with gynecological malignancies 
Pegylated granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF; pegfilgrastim) is a longer-acting form of G-CSF, whose effects on dendritic cell (DC) and regulatory T cell (Treg) mobilization, and on the in vivo and ex vivo release of immune modulating cytokines remain unexplored.
Twelve patients with gynecological cancers received carboplatin/paclitaxel chemotherapy and single-dose pegfilgrastim as prophylaxis of febrile neutropenia. Peripheral blood was collected prior to pegfilgrastim administration (day 0) and on days +7, +11 and +21, to quantify immunoregulatory cytokines and to assess type 1 DC (DC1), type 2 DC (DC2) and Treg cell mobilization. In vitro-differentiated, monocyte-derived DC were used to investigate endocytic activity, expression of DC maturation antigens and ability to activate allogeneic T-cell proliferation.
Pegfilgrastim increased the frequency of circulating DC1 and DC2 precursors. In contrast, CD4+FoxP3+ bona fide Treg cells were unchanged compared with baseline. Serum levels of hepatocyte growth factor and interleukin (IL)-12p40, but not transforming growth factor-β1 or immune suppressive kynurenines, significantly increased after pegfilgrastim administration. Interestingly, pegfilgrastim fostered in vitro monocytic secretion of IL-12p40 and IL-12p70 when compared with unconjugated G-CSF. Finally, DC populations differentiated in vitro after clinical provision of pegfilgrastim were phenotypically mature, possessed low endocytic activity, and incited a robust T-cell proliferative response.
Pegfilgrastim induced significant changes in immune cell number and function. The enhancement of monocytic IL-12 secretion portends favorable implications for pegfilgrastim administration to patients with cancer, a clinical context where the induction of immune deviation would be highly undesirable.
PMCID: PMC2992497  PMID: 21062439
16.  Rapid diagnostic tests versus clinical diagnosis for managing people with fever in malaria endemic settings 
In 2010, the World Health Organization recommended that all patients with suspected malaria are tested for malaria before treatment. In rural African settings light microscopy is often unavailable. Diagnosis has relied on detecting fever, and most people were given antimalarial drugs presumptively. Rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) provide a point-of-care test that may improve management, particularly of people for whom the RDT excludes the diagnosis of malaria.
To evaluate whether introducing RDTs into algorithms for diagnosing and treating people with fever improves health outcomes, reduces antimalarial prescribing, and is safe, compared to algorithms using clinical diagnosis.
Search methods
We searched the Cochrane Infectious Disease Group Specialized Register; CENTRAL (The Cochrane Library); MEDLINE; EMBASE; CINAHL; LILACS; and the metaRegister of Controlled Trials for eligible trials up to 10 January 2014. We contacted researchers in the field and reviewed the reference lists of all included trials to identify any additional trials.
Selection criteria
Individual or cluster randomized trials (RCTs) comparing RDT-supported algorithms and algorithms using clinical diagnosis alone for diagnosing and treating people with fever living in malaria-endemic settings.
Data collection and analysis
Two authors independently applied the inclusion criteria and extracted data. We combined data from individually and cluster RCTs using the generic inverse variance method. We presented all outcomes as risk ratios (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs), and assessed the quality of evidence using the GRADE approach.
Main results
We included seven trials, enrolling 17,505 people with fever or reported history of fever in this review; two individually randomized trials and five cluster randomized trials. All trials were conducted in rural African settings.
In most trials the health workers diagnosing and treating malaria were nurses or clinical officers with less than one week of training in RDT supported diagnosis. Health worker prescribing adherence to RDT results was highly variable: the number of participants with a negative RDT result who received antimalarials ranged from 0% to 81%.
Overall, RDT supported diagnosis had little or no effect on the number of participants remaining unwell at four to seven days after treatment (6990 participants, five trials, low quality evidence); but using RDTs reduced prescribing of antimalarials by up to three-quarters (17,287 participants, seven trials, moderate quality evidence). As would be expected, the reduction in antimalarial prescriptions was highest where health workers adherence to the RDT result was high, and where the true prevalence of malaria was lower.
Using RDTs to support diagnosis did not have a consistent effect on the prescription of antibiotics, with some trials showing higher antibiotic prescribing and some showing lower prescribing in the RDT group (13,573 participants, five trials, very low quality evidence).
One trial reported malaria microscopy on all enrolled patients in an area of moderate endemicity, so we could compare the number of patients in the RDT and clinical diagnosis groups that actually had microscopy confirmed malaria infection but did not receive antimalarials. No difference was detected between the two diagnostic strategies (1280 participants, one trial, low quality evidence).
Authors' conclusions
Algorithms incorporating RDTs can substantially reduce antimalarial prescribing if health workers adhere to the test results. Introducing RDTs has not been shown to improve health outcomes for patients, but adherence to the test result does not seem to result in worse clinical outcomes than presumptive treatment.
Concentrating on improving the care of RDT negative patients could improve health outcomes in febrile children.
Rapid diagnostic tests versus clinical diagnosis for managing fever in settings where malaria is common
Cochrane Collaboration researchers conducted a review of the effects of introducing rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) for diagnosing malaria in areas where diagnosis has traditionally been based on clinical symptoms alone. After searching for relevant trials, they included seven randomized controlled trials, which enrolled 17,505 people with fever.
What are RDTs and how might they improve patient care
RDTs are simple to use diagnostic kits which can detect the parasites that cause malaria from one drop of the patient's blood. They do not require laboratory facilities or extensive training, and can provide a simple positive or negative result within 20 minutes, making them suitable for use in rural areas of Africa where most malaria cases occur.
Improving malaria diagnosis by introducing RDTs is unlikely to improve the health outcomes of people with true malaria as they would probably have received antimalarials even if the health worker was relying on clinical symptoms alone. However, for patients with fever not due to malaria, RDTs could improve health outcomes by prompting the health worker to look for and treat the true cause of their fever earlier.
What the research says
In these trials, diagnosis using RDTs had little or no effect on the number of people remaining unwell four to seven days after treatment (low quality evidence).
However, using RDTs reduced the prescription of antimalarials by up to three-quarters (moderate quality evidence), and this reduction was highest where health workers only prescribed antimalarials following a positive test, and where malaria was less common.
Using RDTs to support diagnosis did not have a consistent effect on the prescription of antibiotics, with some trials showing an increase in antibiotic prescription and some showing a decrease (very low quality evidence).
Use of RDTs did not result in more patients with malaria being incorrectly diagnosed as not having malaria and being sent home without treatment (low quality evidence).
PMCID: PMC4468923  PMID: 24740584
17.  A phase II study evaluating neo-/adjuvant EIA chemotherapy, surgical resection and radiotherapy in high-risk soft tissue sarcoma 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:510.
The role of chemotherapy in high-risk soft tissue sarcoma is controversial. Though many patients undergo initial curative resection, distant metastasis is a frequent event, resulting in 5-year overall survival rates of only 50-60%. Neo-adjuvant and adjuvant chemotherapy (CTX) has been applied to achieve pre-operative cytoreduction, assess chemosensitivity, and to eliminate occult metastasis. Here we report on the results of our non-randomized phase II study on neo-adjuvant treatment for high-risk STS.
Patients with potentially curative high-risk STS (size ≥ 5 cm, deep/extracompartimental localization, tumor grades II-III [FNCLCC]) were included. The protocol comprised 4 cycles of neo-adjuvant chemotherapy (EIA, etoposide 125 mg/m2 iv days 1 and 4, ifosfamide 1500 mg/m2 iv days 1 - 4, doxorubicin 50 mg/m2 day 1, pegfilgrastim 6 mg sc day 5), definitive surgery with intra-operative radiotherapy, adjuvant radiotherapy and 4 adjuvant cycles of EIA.
Between 06/2005 and 03/2010 a total of 50 subjects (male = 33, female = 17, median age 50.1 years) were enrolled. Median follow-up was 30.5 months. The majority of primary tumors were located in the extremities or trunk (92%), 6% originated in the abdomen/retroperitoneum. Response by RECIST criteria to neo-adjuvant CTX was 6% CR (n = 3), 24% PR (n = 12), 62% SD (n = 31) and 8% PD (n = 4). Local recurrence occurred in 3 subjects (6%). Distant metastasis was observed in 12 patients (24%). Overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS) at 2 years was 83% and 68%, respectively. Multivariate analysis failed to prove influence of resection status or grade of histological necrosis on OS or DFS. Severe toxicities included neutropenic fever (4/50), cardiac toxicity (2/50), and CNS toxicity (4/50) leading to CTX dose reductions in 4 subjects. No cases of secondary leukemias were observed so far.
The current protocol is feasible for achieving local control rates, as well as OS and DFS comparable to previously published data on neo-/adjuvant chemotherapy in this setting. However, the definitive role of chemotherapy remains unclear in the absence of large, randomized trials. Therefore, the current regimen can only be recommended within a clinical study, and a possibly increased risk of secondary leukemias has to be taken into account.
Trial registration NCT01382030, EudraCT 2004-002501-72
PMCID: PMC3248452  PMID: 22152120
18.  Uptake and Economic Impact of First-Cycle Colony-Stimulating Factor Use During Adjuvant Treatment of Breast Cancer  
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2012;30(8):806-812.
In 2002, pegfilgrastim was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and the benefits of dose-dense breast cancer chemotherapy, especially for hormone receptor (HR) –negative tumors, were reported. We examined first-cycle colony-stimulating factor use (FC-CSF) before and after 2002 and estimated US expenditures for dose-dense chemotherapy.
We identified patients in Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results–Medicare greater than 65 years old with stages I to III breast cancer who had greater than one chemotherapy claim within 6 months of diagnosis(1998 to 2005) and classified patients with an average cycle length less than 21 days as having received dose-dense chemotherapy. The associations of patient, tumor, and physician-related factors with the receipt of any colony-stimulating factor (CSF) and FC-CSF use were analyzed by using generalized estimating equations. CSF costs were estimated for patients who were undergoing dose-dense chemotherapy.
Among the 10,773 patients identified, 5,266 patients (48.9%) had a CSF claim. CSF use was stable between 1998 and 2002 and increased from 36.8% to 73.7% between 2002 and 2005, FC-CSF use increased from 13.2% to 67.9%, and pegfilgrastim use increased from 4.1% to 83.6%. In a multivariable analysis, CSF use was associated with age and chemotherapy type and negatively associated with black/Hispanic race, rural residence, and shorter chemotherapy duration. FC-CSF use was associated with high socioeconomic status but not with age or race/ethnicity. The US annual CSF expenditure for women with HR-positive tumors treated with dose-dense chemotherapy is estimated to be $38.8 million.
A rapid increase in FC-CSF use occurred over a short period of time, which was likely a result of the reported benefits of dose-dense chemotherapy and the ease of pegfilgrastim administration. Because of the increasing evidence that elderly HR-positive patients do not benefit from dose-dense chemotherapy, limiting pegfilgrastim use would combat the increasing costs of cancer care.
PMCID: PMC3295569  PMID: 22312106
19.  A Phase 1 Study of Everolimus Plus Docetaxel Plus Cisplatin as Induction Chemotherapy for Patients With Locally and/or Regionally Advanced Head and Neck Cancer 
Cancer  2013;119(10):1823-1831.
Activation of the phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway is common in head and neck cancers, and it has been demonstrated that inhibition of mTOR complex 1 sensitizes cell lines to platinum and taxane chemotherapy. The authors conducted a phase 1 study to evaluate the addition of oral everolimus to cisplatin and docetaxel as induction chemotherapy for head and neck cancer.
In this single-institution phase 1 study, 3 doses of daily everolimus were explored: 5 mg daily, 7.5 mg daily (administered as 5 mg daily alternating with 10 mg daily), and 10 mg daily of each 21-day cycle. Cisplatin and docetaxel doses were fixed (both were 75 mg/m2 on day 1 of 21-day cycle) at each dose level with pegfilgrastim support. A standard 3 + 3 dose-escalation plan was used. After induction, patients were removed from protocol.
Eighteen patients were enrolled (15 men, 3 women), and their median Karnofsky performance status was 90. The most common toxicities were hyperglycemia, low hemoglobin, fatigue, and thrombocytopenia. Dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs) were neutropenic fever (1 event at dose level 2, 2 events at dose level 3), and all patients recovered fully from these DLTs. The maximum tolerated dose was exceeded at dose level 3. The progression-free survival rate at 1 year was 87.5% (95% confidence interval, 56.8%–96.7%); and, at 2 years, it was 76.6% (95% confidence interval, 41.2%–92.3%). Activating PI3K catalytic subunit α (PIK3CA) gene mutations were identified in 2 human papillomavirus-associated oropharyngeal cancers.
The phase 2 recommended dose was 7.5 mg daily for everolimus plus cisplatin and docetaxel (both at 75 mg/m2 on day 1 of a 21-day cycle) given with pegfilgrastim support.
PMCID: PMC3969235  PMID: 23408298
phase 1; everolimus; induction; neck; squamous
20.  Randomized trial and pharmacokinetic study of pegfilgrastim vs. filgrastim after dose-intensive chemotherapy in young adults and children with sarcomas 
To compare the effectiveness, tolerance and pharmacokinetics of a single dose of pegfilgrastim to daily filgrastim in children and young adults with sarcomas treated with dose-intensive combination chemotherapy.
Experimental Design
Patients were randomized to receive a single dose of 100 mcg/kg of pegfilgrastim subcutaneously or 5 mcg/kg/day of filgrastim subcutaneously, daily until neutrophil recovery after 2 treatment cycles with vincristine, doxorubicin, and cyclophosphamide (VDC) and 2 cycles of etoposide and ifosfamide (IE). The duration of severe neutropenia (ANC ≤500/mcL) during cycles 1–4 and cycle duration for all cycles were compared. Pharmacokinetics of pegfilgrastim and filgrastim and CD34+ stem cell mobilization were studied on cycle 1. Growth factor related toxicity, transfusions, and episodes of fever and neutropenia and infections were collected for cycles 1–4.
Thirty-four patients (median age 20 years, range 3.8–25.8) were enrolled, 32 completed cycles 1–4. The median (range) duration of ANC<500/mcL was 5.5 (3–8) days for pegfilgrastim and 6 (0–9) days for filgrastim (p= 0.76) after VDC, and 1.5 (0–4) days for pegfilgrastim and 3.75 (0–6.5) days for filgrastim (p=0.11) after IE. More episodes of febrile neutropenia and documented infections occurred on the filgrastim arm. Serum pegfilgrastim concentrations were highly variable. Pegfilgrastim apparent clearance (11 ml/h/kg) was similar to that reported in adults.
A single dose per cycle of pegfilgrastim was well tolerated and may be as effective as daily filgrastim based on the duration of severe neutropenia and number of episodes of febrile neutropenia and documented infections after dose-intensive treatment with VDC and IE.
PMCID: PMC2787766  PMID: 19920107
21.  Pegfilgrastim and daily granulocyte colony-stimulating factor: patterns of use and neutropenia-related outcomes in cancer patients in Spain – results of the LEARN Study 
European Journal of Cancer Care  2009;18(3):280-286.
Daily granulocyte colony-stimulating factors [(G-CSFs); e.g. filgrastim, lenograstim] are frequently used to reduce the duration of chemotherapy-induced neutropenia (CIN) and the incidence of febrile neutropenia (FN) in cancer patients. A pegylated formulation of filgrastim, pegfilgrastim, which is administered once per cycle, was introduced in Spain in 2003. LEARN was a multi-centre, retrospective, observational study in Spain comparing patterns of use of daily G-CSF and pegfilgrastim, and CIN-related outcomes in adults with non-myeloid malignancies receiving myelosuppressive chemotherapy. Outcome measures were the percentage of patients receiving G-CSF for primary prophylaxis versus secondary prophylaxis/treatment, duration of treatment with G-CSF and incidence of CIN-related complications. Medical records from consecutive patients with documented pegfilgrastim (n = 75) or daily G-CSF (n = 111) use during 2003 were included. The proportion of patients receiving primary or secondary prophylaxis was comparable between the pegfilgrastim (39 and 48% respectively) and daily G-CSF (40 and 48% respectively) groups. However, there was a trend towards less frequent use to treat a neutropenic event such as FN or neutropenia in the pegfilgrastim group (17 versus 30% with daily G-CSF). Chemotherapy-induced neutropenia-related complications were less frequent in patients receiving pegfilgrastim (e.g. FN 11 versus 24% with daily G-CSF). This is the first study to show the potential benefits of pegfilgrastim over daily G-CSF in Spanish clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC2702003  PMID: 19076208
pegfilgrastim; G-CSF; pattern of use; neutropenia; febrile neutropenia
22.  Effectiveness of daily versus non-daily granulocyte colony-stimulating factors in patients with solid tumours undergoing chemotherapy: a multivariate analysis of data from current practice 
European Journal of Cancer Care  2013;22(3):400-412.
We conducted a multicentre, retrospective, observational study including patients with solid tumours (excluding breast cancer) that received granulocyte colony-stimulating factors (G-CSF) and chemotherapy. We investigated the effectiveness of daily vs. non-daily G-CSFs (pegfilgrastim) adjusting by potential confounders. The study included 391 patients (211 daily G-CSF; 180 pegfilgrastim), from whom 47.3% received primary prophylaxis (PP) (57.8% pegfilgrastim), 26.3% secondary prophylaxis (SP: initiation after cycle 1 and no reactive treatment in any cycle) (51.5% pegfilgrastim) and 26.3% reactive treatment (19.4% pegfilgrastim). Only 42.2% of patients with daily G-CSF and 46.2% with pegfilgrastim initiated prophylaxis within 72 h after chemotherapy, and only 10.5% of patients with daily G-CSF received it for ≥7 days. In the multivariate models, daily G-CSF was associated with higher risk of grade 3-4 neutropenia (G3-4N) vs. pegfilgrastim [odds ratio (OR): 1.73, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.004–2.97]. Relative to SP, PP protected against G3-4N (OR for SP vs. PP: 6.0, 95%CI: 3.2–11.4) and febrile neutropenia (OR: 3.1, 95%CI: 1.1–8.8), and was associated to less chemotherapy dose delays and reductions (OR for relative dose intensity <85% for SP vs. PP: 3.1, 95%CI: 1.7–5.4) and higher response rate (OR: 2.1, 95%CI: 1.2–3.7). Data suggest that pegfilgrastim, compared with a daily G-CSF, and PP, compared with SP, could be more effective in preventing neutropenia and its related events in the clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC3655543  PMID: 23331323
neutropenia; granulocyte-colony stimulating factors; multi-cycle chemotherapy; pegfilgrastim; filgrastim; lenograstim
23.  Medical visits for chemotherapy and chemotherapy-induced neutropenia: a survey of the impact on patient time and activities 
BMC Cancer  2004;4:22.
Patients with cancer must make frequent visits to the clinic not only for chemotherapy but also for the management of treatment-related adverse effects. Neutropenia, the most common dose-limiting toxicity of myelosuppressive chemotherapy, has substantial clinical and economic consequences. Colony-stimulating factors such as filgrastim and pegfilgrastim can reduce the incidence of neutropenia, but the clinic visits for these treatments can disrupt patients' routines and activities.
We surveyed patients to assess how clinic visits for treatment with chemotherapy and the management of neutropenia affect their time and activities.
The mean amounts of time affected by these visits ranged from approximately 109 hours (hospitalization for neutropenia) and 8 hours (physician and chemotherapy) to less than 3 hours (laboratory and treatment with filgrastim or pegfilgrastim). The visits for filgrastim or pegfilgrastim were comparable in length, but treatment with filgrastim requires several visits per chemotherapy cycle and treatment with pegfilgrastim requires only 1 visit.
This study provides useful information for future modelling of additional factors such as disease status and chemotherapy schedule and provides information that should be considered in managing chemotherapy-induced neutropenia.
PMCID: PMC420468  PMID: 15153249
24.  Pegfilgrastim on the Same Day Versus Next Day of Chemotherapy in Patients With Breast Cancer, Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer, Ovarian Cancer, and Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma: Results of Four Multicenter, Double-Blind, Randomized Phase II Studies 
Journal of Oncology Practice  2010;6(3):133-140.
Four tumor-specific studies were designed to assess the safety and efficacy of pegfilgrastim administered concurrently with chemotherapy.
To compare data on severe (grade 4) neutropenia duration and febrile neutropenia incidence in patients receiving chemotherapy with pegfilgrastim administered the same day or 24 hours after chemotherapy.
Patients and Methods:
These were similar, randomized, double-blind phase II noninferiority studies of patients with lymphoma or non–small-cell lung (NSCLC), breast, or ovarian cancer. Each study was analyzed separately. The primary end point in each study was cycle-1 severe neutropenia duration. Approximately 90 patients per study were to be randomly assigned at a ratio of 1:1 to receive pegfilgrastim 6 mg once per cycle on the day of chemotherapy or the day after (with placebo on the alternate day).
In four studies, 272 patients received chemotherapy and one or more doses of pegfilgrastim (133 same day, 139 next day). Three studies (breast, lymphoma, NSCLC) enrolled an adequate number of patients for analysis. However, in the NSCLC study, the neutropenic rate was lower than expected (only two patients per arm experienced grade 4 neutropenia). In the breast cancer study, the mean cycle-1 severe neutropenia duration was 1.2 days (95% confidence limit [CL], 0.7 to 1.6) longer in the same-day compared with the next-day group (mean, 2.6 v 1.4 days). In the lymphoma study, the mean cycle-1 severe neutropenia duration was 0.9 days (95% CL, 0.3 to 1.4) longer in the same-day compared with the next-day group (mean, 2.1 v 1.2 days). In the breast and lymphoma studies, the absolute neutrophil count profile for same-day patients was earlier, deeper, and longer compared with that for next-day patients, although the results indicate that same-day administration was statistically noninferior to next-day administration according to neutropenia duration.
For patients receiving pegfilgrastim with chemotherapy, pegfilgrastim administered 24 hours after chemotherapy completion is recommended.
PMCID: PMC2868638  PMID: 20808556
25.  Prevention of Pegfilgrastim-Induced Bone Pain: A Phase III Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Randomized Clinical Trial of the University of Rochester Cancer Center Clinical Community Oncology Program Research Base 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2012;30(16):1974-1979.
Pegfilgrastim-induced bone pain is a significant clinical problem that may result in discontinuation of pegfilgrastim and lead to less effective chemotherapy dosing. Interventions for pegfilgrastim-induced bone pain are needed.
Patients and Methods
The University of Rochester Cancer Center Clinical Community Oncology Program Research Base randomly assigned 510 patients at 17 sites to receive either naproxen (500 mg two times per day) or placebo on the day of pegfilgrastim administration, continuing for 5 to 8 days after pegfilgrastim. Patients recorded pain severity (using a scale of 0 to 10) and duration in daily diaries. The primary outcome measure was the area under the curve (AUC) for pain for days 1 through 5. Secondary outcome measures included the identification of risk factors for the development of pain and response to naproxen.
Patients' mean age was 55.6 years and 86% were female. Sixty-eight percent of patients had breast cancer and 10% had lung cancer. Pain reached its peak at 3 days for both groups. The mean AUC for pain was 7.71 for the placebo group and 6.04 for the naproxen group (P = .037). Naproxen reduced maximum pain from 3.40 to 2.59 (P = .005). Naproxen also reduced overall pain incidence from 71.3% to 61.1% (P = .020) and duration from 2.40 to 1.92 days (P = .009). The reduction in severe pain (> 5 on a scale of 1 to 10) from 27.0% to 19.2% was also significant (P = .048). Risk factors could not be identified to predict incidence, severity, or ability to prevent pegfilgrastim-induced bone pain.
Our phase III randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial demonstrated that naproxen at a dose of 500 mg twice per day is effective in reducing the incidence and severity of pegfilgrastim-induced bone pain.
PMCID: PMC3383174  PMID: 22508813

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