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- Plosker, G.L. & Figgitt, D.P. Drugs (2003) 63: 2317. doi:10.2165/00003495-200363210-00004
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▴ Fludarabine is an antimetabolite antineoplastic agent used in the treatment of various haematological malignancies, particularly B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL).
▴ An oral formulation of fludarabine has recently become available in the majority of European countries for the treatment of patients with relapsed or refractory B-cell CLL after initial treatment with an alkylating agent-based regimen. It is the first oral formulation of a purine analogue available for clinical use in B-cell CLL.
▴ Pharmacokinetic studies evaluating the bioavailability of oral fludarabine indicate that an oral dose of 40 mg/m2/day would provide similar systemic drug exposure to the standard intravenous dose of 25 mg/m2/day.
▴ A phase II study evaluated the clinical efficacy of six to eight cycles of oral fludarabine 40 mg/m2/day for 5 days of each 28-day cycle in 78 patients with previously treated B-cell CLL. Depending on the criteria used, the overall response rate was 46.2% (20.5% complete response [CR], 25.6% partial response [PR]) or 51.3% (17.9% CR, 33.3% PR). These results were similar to the 48% overall response rate reported in a similar historical control group treated with intravenous fludarabine.
▴ Myelosuppression (WHO grade 3 or 4) was the most frequently reported adverse effect with oral fludarabine therapy. Other common adverse effects included infection and gastrointestinal disturbances, although these were usually of mild to moderate severity (WHO grade 1 or 2). Overall, the tolerability profile of oral fludarabine is similar to that of the intravenous formulation.