Srdan Verstovsek, MD, PhD, director of the Hanns A. Pielenz Clinical Research Center for Myeloproliferative Neoplasms at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, discusses the benefit of ruxolitinib (Jakafi) in the treatment of patients with polycythemia vera (PV).
Not only has the JAK inhibitor ruxolitinib become the standard of care for the second-line treatment of these patients, Verstovsek says, the benefit of the drug is greater than what has been seen in clinical trials. Importantly, ruxolitinib is effective in improving iron levels, and iron deficiency is the hallmark of PV. Iron essentially serves as food for the rapidly growing red blood cells, and iron deficiency is typically symptomatic, he adds.
Ruxolitinib has maintained durable responses in patients beyond 4 years, which is already much longer than what the drug has demonstrated in patients with myelofibrosis.