Platelet E-News: March 22, 2011

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.


ITP Research and Treatments

Hospitals, Insurance, and Medical Care

General Health and Medicine


ITP Research and Treatments



Based on additional clinical trial data and a longer study period, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave full approval to Promacta (eltrombopag) for the management of ITP patients who fail first-line treatments. GlaxoSmithKline updated the prescribing Information to include the additional studies as well as side-effects reported with longer-term use. Eltrombopag, a pill that stimulates the bone marrow to produce more platelets, was given limited approval by the FDA in November 2008 and has been available to ITP patients since then through the FDA’s Accelerated Approval Program.

“FDA Grants Full Approval for PROMACTA® (eltrombopag) for Treatment of Rare Blood Disorder” PRNewswire

This story was reported by many media outlets giving rare global coverage to ITP.




A Chinese company is making and marketing an unauthorized version of eltrombopag. Promacta Cares, a program administered by GlaxoSmithKline and sanctioned by the FDA, is the only safe and controlled way for patients in the US to obtain eltrombopag. The doctors on PDSA’s medical board emphasize that any medications ordered via the Internet can be potentially dangerous. Patients are advised to tell their doctors if they are taking medications obtained in this manner and to report any side effects from them.




Fatigue is much more prevalent in ITP patients than the general population report researchers, analyzing responses of 598 people with ITP in the US and UK who completed a standardized questionnaire measuring fatigue, daytime sleepiness, and orthostatic symptoms (feeling faint). They found that the fatigue correlated with platelet counts less than 100,000, daytime sleepiness, orthostatic function, bleeding symptoms, and the presence of other medical conditions. In their study fatigue was not associated with age, gender, splenectomy status or duration of ITP.

Newton JL et al. “Fatigue in Adult Patients with Primary Immune Thrombocytopenia. Eur J Haematol. 2011 Feb 15. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0609




Doctors tell their female patients to avoid becoming pregnant during or immediately following rituximab (Rituxan) treatments. Despite the warnings, researchers located and recorded the outcomes of 153 pregnancies influenced by rituximab. Of these, 90 resulted in live births, 22 of them premature, and 11 with blood abnormalities. The authors recommend that physicians continue to counsel their female patients undergoing rituximab treatments to avoid becoming pregnant for up to 12 months after the treatment ends. If a pregnancy does occur, it is important for the physician to report the pregnancy outcome to regulatory authorities.

Chakravarty EF et al. “Pregnancy outcomes after maternal exposure to rituximab.” Blood. 2011 Feb 3;117(5):1499-506.




Hospitals, Insurance, and Medical Care



More Americans have heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other serious illnesses compared to prior years concludes the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in their annual report on the health of those living in the US. Despite their health problems, fewer Americans have health insurance and more are postponing medical and dental treatment due to financial issues. The good news is that since 2000, life expectancy has increased and infant mortality has decreased.

“FACTBOX-Highlights from CDC's health of the nation report.” Reuters Feb 16 2011

Lowes R. “American Adults Sicker, Less Able to Afford Care, Says CDC.” Medscape Feb 17, 2011

Health: United States 2010




The US Department of Health and Human Services implemented a new $200 million grant program to help states develop ways to make health insurance costs more transparent and stop unreasonable rate increases. These funds complement the $46 million awarded in 2010 to assist states in tracking health insurance premium rates and enforcing the rule that requires insurance companies to publicly justify large rate hikes.

States Can Apply for Nearly $200 Million to Help Fight Health Premium Increases HHS News Release, February 24, 2011




General Health and Medicine



People who consumed soft drinks and other sugary beverages had higher blood pressure than those who limited those drinks reported researchers in a study of 2696 people in the US and the UK. Consuming a saltier diet along with the sugary drinks prompted an even more pronounced increase in blood pressure. In the study US residents averaged nearly one serving of sugar-sweetened and diet beverages per day compared to .2 servings for UK residents.

Brown IJ et al. “Sugar-Sweetened Beverage, Sugar Intake of Individuals, and Their Blood Pressure: International Study of Macro/Micronutrients and Blood Pressure.” Hypertension. 2011 Feb 28.

O’Riordan M. “Sugar-Sweetened Drinks Linked to Elevations in Blood Pressure.” Heartwire. February 28, 2011




The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health hired a Culinary Institute chef/instructor and father of two to create and kid-test 40 heart-healthy recipes. The resulting cookbook, Keep the Beat™ Recipes:Deliciously Healthy Family Meals, is available free. In the future, the NHLBI web site will feature videos of the chef and his children preparing the recipes.

You can order a copy of the NHLBI cookbooks or view the recipes and other diet resources at:





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