Effect of a thrombopoietin receptor agonist on use of intravenous immune globulin in patients with immune thrombocytopenia

Michelle P Zeller, Nancy M Heddle, John G Kelton, Korinne Hamilton, Grace Wang, Naushin Sholapur, Julie Carruthers, Cyrus Hsia, Normand Blais, Lisa Toltl, Caroline Hamm, Marc-André Pearson, Donald M Arnold
Transfusion 2016, 56 (1): 73-9

BACKGROUND: Thrombopoietin receptor agonists are new treatments for patients with chronic immune thrombocytopenia (ITP). How one of these agent, romiplostim, has impacted practice patterns, especially the use of intravenous immune globulin (IVIG), has not been evaluated outside of clinical trials.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: This was a retrospective cohort study of adult ITP patients treated with romiplostim in four Canadian centers. Patients had primary or secondary ITP and were followed for 1 year before starting weekly romiplostim treatment. We compared IVIG use, clinical outcomes, and cost before and after romiplostim.

RESULTS: Twenty-nine patients with ITP received romiplostim. Median age was 54 years (interquartile range [IQR], 45-63 years) and patients had a median of two prior ITP treatments (IQR, 1-4) including splenectomy (n = 7). Median platelet (PLT) count was 23 × 10(9) before and 124 × 10(9) after romiplostim. Median duration of romiplostim treatment was 3.7 months. Patients used a median of two IVIG infusions per year before and 0.7 per year after starting romiplostim (p = 0.16). For patients who received weekly romiplostim for at least 1 month (n = 19), IVIG infusions were three (IQR, 1-5) per year before and 0.7 (IQR, 0.4-1.6) per year after romiplostim. Results were squewed by two high IVIG users. Nineteen (66%) patients discontinued romiplostim treatment during follow-up because of lack of response (n = 8), sustained response (n = 5), toxicities (n = 4), or response to splenectomy (n = 2). Overall health care costs were similar before and after romiplostim when concomitant treatments, nursing resources, and hospitalizations were considered.

CONCLUSIONS: Romiplostim was associated with improved PLT counts and fewer IVIG infusions for most ITP patients. In practice, romiplostim was generally not continued long term and was cost neutral for overall ITP management.

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