Leukemia Drug May Cause Serious Blood Clots

The FDA is investigating an increasing frequency of reports of serious and life-threatening blood clots and severe narrowing of blood vessels of patients taking the leukemia chemotherapy drug Iclusig (ponatinib). Patients taking Iclusig should seek immediate medical attention if they experience symptoms suggesting a heart attack such as chest pain or pressure, pain in their arms, back, neck or jaw, or shortness of breath; or symptoms of a stroke such as numbness or weakness on one side of the body, trouble talking, severe headache, or dizziness. Iclusig is a prescription medicine used to treat adults diagnosed with chronic phase, accelerated phase, or blast phase chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) or Philadelphia chromosome-positive (Ph+) acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), who are no longer benefiting from previous treatment or who did not tolerate other treatment.


At the time of Iclusig’s approval in December 2012, the drug label contained information about the risks of blood clots in the Boxed Warning and Warnings and Precautions sections. In clinical trials conducted before approval, serious arterial blood clots occurred in 8 percent of Iclusig-treated patients, and blood clots in the veins occurred in 3 percent of Iclusig-treated patients. In the most recent clinical trial data submitted by the manufacturer to the FDA, at least 20 percent of all participants treated with Iclusig have developed blood clots or narrowing of blood vessels. Data from clinical trials and postmarket adverse event reports show that serious adverse events have occurred in patients treated with Iclusig, including heart attacks resulting in death, worsening coronary artery disease, stroke, narrowing of large arteries of the brain, severe narrowing of blood vessels in the extremities, and the need for urgent surgical procedures to restore blood flow.


Other problems occurring with the drug’s use include congestive heart failure (CHF) and loss of blood flow to extremities resulting in tissue death requiring amputation. Newly identified serious adverse reactions have also been reported involving the eyes, including decreased vision and clots in blood vessels of the eye. These adverse events were seen in all age groups treated and in those with and without cardiovascular risk factors.


See the Announcement


See also Medical Law Perspectives, May 2013 Report: Drugs, Dosage, and Damage: Physician Liability for Prescribing or Administering Medication