Platelet E-News – December 16, 2002

This e-newsletter is a monthly publication of The Platelet Disorder Support Association. The information in this newsletter is for educational purposes only. For advice on your unique medical condition, please consult a health care professional.


  • Report from the American Society of Hematology Conference
  • Reduced Stability in Menomune Meningococcal Vaccine
  • Liposomal Vincristine
  • New Blood (Platelet) Safety Devices
  • Melatonin for Refractory ITP
  • New Doctor-Patient E-mail Guidelines
  • IVIG at Home (advertisement)
  • Would You Like to Postpone or Avoid Splenectomy? (advertisement)



Each year close to 14,000 hematologists from all over the world gather at the American Society of Hematology conference. This year the conference was held December 6-10 in Philadelphia, PA. We were there to hear the latest ITP news and talk to hematologists interested in ITP. I wish we could report a wonderful new treatment that would solve everyone’s platelet woes. It was not to be. We were, however, very encouraged with the interest in the disease and some of the progress made in understanding and treating it.

There were 3,458 posters, constant simultaneous sessions from 7:30 AM to 5:15 PM, and a 521 page education book. Some of the presentations were incredibly obscure. As one researcher said, “There were just too many letters”

Sorting through some of it, we heard researchers report new clinical results using Rituxan, CellCept, Cyclosporine A, CAMPATH, bone marrow transplant and antibiotics to treat H-pylori infection associated with ITP. Of these treatments, Rituxan seemed most promising. There was continued interest in WinRho SDF and IVIg treatments. There was also an increased understanding of the role inflammation plays in eliminating platelets.

Some highlights for us included hearing that hematologists were 1) looking to replace prednisone for the first thing they prescribe for an ITP patient, 2) increasing sensitivity to the fact that many patients are hesitant to have their spleen removed, 3) exploring various options in patient/doctor communication, 4) become more accepting of alternatives by reporting results from Angelica Polysaccharide (a compound extracted from Danggui, a Chinese herb), 5) publicizing the decreased quality of life of ITP patients from the norm.

You can read the ASH abstracts at: We will summarize the most important presentations for ITP patients in the Spring edition of The Platelet News.

We are grateful to Nabi Biopharmaceuticals for their restricted education grant that helped fund our conference presence and for making the Corporate Friday Education session available to ITP patients.


Aventis Pasteur Limited is withdrawing single dose vials only of Menomune ™ Meningococcal vaccine because of reduced stability of the serogroup A component after six months of shelf life. This recall applies to patients receiving vaccine since May 16, 2001. Meningococcal vaccine is given to patients who are about to undergo splenectomy because of a splenectomized patient’s increased susceptibility to meningitis. Serogroup A meningococcal disease is rare in North America. The largest and most frequently recurring meningitis outbreaks occur in sub-Saharan Africa.

If you have received this vaccine after May 16, 2001, please contact your physician to determine if you should be re-vaccinated.

For more information see:



“Substituting liposomal vincristine for free vincristine in chemotherapy regimen may improve responses in patients with aggressive lymphomas.” The libosomal form of the drug is less toxic than free vincristine and in mouse models was more active than free vincristine. Vincristine is occasionally used to treat ITP.

From Hem/Onc Today, Vol 3, No. 12, December 2002. See


The FDA approved two devices to improve blood safety. One is a leukocyte reduction filter to allow blood centers to process blood faster. The second is a bacterial detection system that detects both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria in donor and apheresis platelets. The bacterial detection device detects changes in oxygen concentration that are a result of bacterial growth.

From Hem/Onc Today, Vol 3, No. 12, December 2002.


Researchers at the National Health Services in Italy tested melatonin in three patients with refractory ITP. All patients had a partial response after one month and a continued response with the treatment. The only reported side-effect was drowsiness.

From American Journal of Therapeutics 2002, 9(6) 524-526.


A consortium of national medical societies and malpractice carriers, known as the eRisk Working Group for Healthcare developed guidelines to limit the liability risks of communicating via e-mail. The recommendation is that physicians only conduct e-mail consultations if they have previously established a relationship with the patient. State regulators have recently taken action against services that provide on-line consultations and prescribe medications for patients they have never seen.

For information on advertising in our e-news letter contact us at

This e-newsletter is published by the Platelet Disorder Support Association, P.O. Box 61533, Potomac, MD, 20859, phone/fax: 1-87-Platelet or (301) 294-5967, web:, e-mail:

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