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Treating adverse risk myelodysplastic syndromes with azacitidine exacerbates thrombocytopenia. We report a study of eltrombopag in combination with azacitidine using a 3 + 3 cohort design. Patients with baseline platelets of <150 × 109 /l received eltrombopag ranging from 25 to 300 mg. An 8-day pre-phase of eltrombopag was followed by two cycles of combined therapy. Amongst 31 patients, there were no dose-limiting toxicities. The maximum tolerated dose (MTD) was 300 mg. Transient increases in bone marrow blasts at day 8 were common but no patient had protocol-defined progression following eltrombopag monotherapy. Marrow response rates after three and six treatment cycles were 32% and 29% respectively. In all, 70% of patients treated below and 36% treated at the MTD achieved a modified International Working Group 2006 platelet response at the end of cycle two. Of the platelet transfusion independent patients at baseline, 67% treated at the MTD became transfusion dependent during the first two cycles of treatment. Apart from lack of disease progression, our findings concur with a previously reported Phase III study (A StUdy of eltromboPag in myelodysPlastic SyndrOmes Receiving azaciTidine [SUPPORT]). We conclude that eltrombopag/azacitidine is safe in terms of conventional measures defined by adverse-event reporting. However, in light of SUPPORT and our own descriptive findings regarding efficacy, further combination studies in high-risk disease should be considered with caution.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Haematol

Publication Date



azacitidine, eltrombopag, myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), platelets