Benefit-Risk Assessment of Becaplermin in the Treatment of Diabetic Foot Ulcers
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Becaplermin is a recombinant platelet-derived growth factor composed of two B chains that is approved for the treatment of neuropathic diabetic foot ulcers extending into or beyond the subcutaneous tissue in patients with adequate arterial perfusion. The aim of this review is to assess the benefits and risks associated with the use of this agent. Randomized controlled trials have provided evidence for the efficacy of becaplermin in increasing healing rates, and cost analyses have repeatedly shown a favourable cost-effectiveness ratio. However, clinical experience has not met these high expectations and becaplermin is not widely used. Moreover, this agent has not been compared with other additional treatment modalities, notably bioengineered skin substitutes and extracellular matrix proteins, and such comparisons are eagerly awaited. Of particular note, increased cancer risk has been reported in patients treated with more than three tubes of becaplermin; thus, this agent should be used only when the anticipated benefits outweigh the potential harm, and with extreme caution in patients with diagnosed malignancy. Finally, longer follow-up data are necessary to shed more light on the potential risk of malignancy in connection with becaplermin use.