FDA Approves Momelotinib (Ojjaara) for Myelofibrosis Patients With Anemia

JAK inhibitors which is a known class of medication, has for the first time been approved by the Food and Drugs Administration for the treatment of rare anemic patients with myelofibrosis. The drug works differently from similar medications by not causing a deficit of healthy red blood cells in patients.

Myelofibrosis is a rare chronic leukemia that causes extensive scarring in the bone marrow leading to severe anemia. The approved JAK inhibitors drug; Momelotinib (Ojjaara) becomes the fourth amongst the same class of medication to be recognized by the FDA for its treatment. Although previously approved drugs for the disease could cause anemia, the manufacturers of this drug says it does the opposite.

“Currently, there is a paucity of effective therapies for anemic myelofibrosis patients. Momelotinib represents a compelling option for treatment of myelofibrosis patients with disease-related anemia,” says Douglas Tremblay, MD, an assistant professor at the Tisch Cancer Institute and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

Momelotinib ensures there is no need for blood transfusions during treatment

Janus Kinase inhibitors also known as JAK inhibitors for the past years have been an effective drug for managing myelofibrosis, however it presented a disadvantage. Once myelofibrosis patients develop severe anemia, they often have to stop using JAK inhibitors to avoid the risk of anemia.

“Momelotinib is the first approved therapy for myelofibrosis that has an indication to treat the difficult feature of anemia, in addition to improving disease-associated spleen enlargement and difficult symptoms,” says Ruben Mesa, MD, president of the Levine Cancer Institute and executive director of the Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Mesa is the lead author of a study that saw to the testing momelotinib against ruxolitinib. In his published work, he was able to prove that participants on momelotinib compared to ruxolitinib;a JAK inhibitors drug, were significantly less likely to need blood transfusions for anemia.

New treatment improves results for myelofibrosis patients with anemia

According to Dr. Mesa, Momelotinib which is the newly FDA approved drug positively impacts patients on its treatment plan. Thus, patients who develop anemia during treatment, and who, in the past, might have had few good treatment options, can comfortably hop on the JAK inhibitors treatment plan.

In the future, experts hope that newly developed medications could be used with momelotinib or other JAK inhibitors to greatly lengthen patients’ lives and enhance their quality of life.

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