30 July 2020

With a 650,000 euro funding from ZonMw, researchers from the Haematology and Pharmacy departments can develop a medication phasing out strategy for patients with chronic myeloid leukaemia. This strategy will be tested in practice.

Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) is a serious and rare disease. With new, expensive drugs (tyrosine kinase inhibitors), patients can be treated relatively easily and survival is good. However, the majority of patients (for the time being) have to take these drugs for life. This is a major burden because half of the patients experience moderate to severe side effects, which reduce the quality of life. 

Reduce side effects & reduce costs
There are indications that the dose of the medication can be safely reduced if the disease is stable. The lower dose reduces the chance and severity of side effects and improves the quality of life. In addition, dose reduction also means that patients need to take less medication. This reduces the cost of treatment (approximately €13,000-€70,000 per patient per year). 

Patient-driven phase-out strategy
Under the leadership of Professor Nicole Blijlevens (Hematology) and researcher Charlotte Bekker (Pharmacy), the Department of Haematology and Pharmacy will develop and test a phasing out strategy in CML patients with whom the disease remains stable. Reduction means that the dose of medication will be lowered. The control and decision to reduce the dose is the patient's responsibility, and is therefore patient-driven. By giving the patient (in the home situation) his own direction, the researchers hope to motivate him/her to improve the lifelong use of medication. The disease remains stable, side effects diminish, the quality of life improves at lower drug costs.

The funding falls under the ZonMw programme Good Usage of Medicines.

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