Dr. Kumar on the Safety and Efficacy of Venetoclax in Myeloma

Shaji Kumar, MD
Published Online: Monday, Jan 23, 2017



Shaji Kumar, MD, professor of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, discusses the safety profile and the survival benefits associated with venetoclax (Venclexta) in the treatment of patients with multiple myeloma.

Kumar describes venetoclax as a generally well tolerated agent, with most of its associated toxicities including drops in platelet counts, some neutropenia, and some gastrointestinal side effects, such as nausea. Each of these toxicities are manageable, he explains, and none reached grade 3 or 4 in severity. This points to venetoclax as a strong potential option for combinatorial regimens.

In terms of survival, Kumar says the field estimated about a decade ago that the median overall survival for patients would be approximately 3 or 4 years. Now, though, survival is somewhere in the region of 8 to 10 years for patients with multiple myeloma. However, he says, no one is cured, and eventually, most patients die of the disease.

Future directions will be looking at how to direct therapy based on biology, he explains. Some trials are currently looking into treatment options for patients with smoldering myeloma, a space where targeted therapies like venetoclax could have an important role. Plus, if venetoclax can be effectively combined with other agents, Kumar says that could make a real, meaningful difference for this patient population.



Shaji Kumar, MD, professor of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, discusses the safety profile and the survival benefits associated with venetoclax (Venclexta) in the treatment of patients with multiple myeloma.

Kumar describes venetoclax as a generally well tolerated agent, with most of its associated toxicities including drops in platelet counts, some neutropenia, and some gastrointestinal side effects, such as nausea. Each of these toxicities are manageable, he explains, and none reached grade 3 or 4 in severity. This points to venetoclax as a strong potential option for combinatorial regimens.

In terms of survival, Kumar says the field estimated about a decade ago that the median overall survival for patients would be approximately 3 or 4 years. Now, though, survival is somewhere in the region of 8 to 10 years for patients with multiple myeloma. However, he says, no one is cured, and eventually, most patients die of the disease.

Future directions will be looking at how to direct therapy based on biology, he explains. Some trials are currently looking into treatment options for patients with smoldering myeloma, a space where targeted therapies like venetoclax could have an important role. Plus, if venetoclax can be effectively combined with other agents, Kumar says that could make a real, meaningful difference for this patient population.




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