Lupus Nephritis and CellCept Study
According to statistics, nephritis or kidney disease occurs in about 50 to 75% of those diagnosed with lupus and patients often ultimately require permanent dialysis or kidney transplants. If you have lupus nephritis and you’re unsure which treatment is best for you, a recent study may give you more hope and confidence. However, before you accept anything as a possible “miracle drug’, research the clinical study background, the parent drug company and learn what wasn’t included in the press release.
The most common treatment for lupus nephritis has been the intravenous chemotherapy medication, Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide). The problem with this drug is that the cure can be as bad as the disease. Chemotherapy is a poisonous assault on the system, which, if one is fortunate, will kill the disease without taking down the patient. Side effects of Cytoxan can include hair loss, shingles, unusual infections, increased risk of malignant tumors, bladder bleeding, leukemia, temporary or permanent sterility and fetal damage.
CellCept is becoming popular because of reports of reduced side effects In CellCept use, bloating, nausea and diarrhea are the most commonly reported side effects but are said to be usually temporary. A recent study declares that CellCept (mycophenalate motifil, as a pill, taken by mouth) can reduce antibody levels in the kidneys, minimize disease effects, decrease kidney damage and perhaps even stop disease progression. This could mean dialysis and kidney transplants will become unnecessary, with CellCept.
This study was done by Rheumatologist Ellen Ginzler, M.D., M.P.H., of State University of New York Downstate Medical Center. According to Dr. Ginzler, 140 people enrolled in this study received either CellCept or Cytoxan With CellCept, 16 people went into remission, as opposed to only 4 on Cytoxan.
In this study, reported by Ivanhoe Newswire
and picked up by HealthCentral.com
, CellCept also had more positive than negative results among African-American patients, who usually have more severe lupus, a higher rate of side effects and are often less responsive to the usual Cytoxan treatment. As many as 2/3 of the patients overall were able to tolerate CellCept’s high dosage of 3,000 milligrams. CellCept is generally a 6 month treatment, which is said to cost “a few thousand dollars” but most insurance companies are expected to offer coverage.
This study was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Roche Pharmaceuticals
the makers of CellCept. Roche has prepared a PDF document, which describes CellCept oral tablets and intravenous medication. Intravenous CellCept was not used in this study. In this PDF
, under “Warning”, Roche lists “increased susceptibility to infection and the possible development of lymphoma may result from immunosuppression”, which was not cited in the Ivanhoe study report.
CellCept was developed to prevent the rejection of transplanted organs and treatment of lupus nephritis is a new use of this medication. Roche’s warning recommends only doctors “experienced in immunosuppressive therapy and management of renal, heart or hepatic transplant patients should use CellCept. Patients receiving the drug should be managed in facilities equipped and staffed with adequate laboratory and supportive medical resources. The physician responsible for maintenance therapy should have complete information requisite for the follow-up of the patient”.
NIH has posted an Important Warning
on CellCept, which should be read in full, along with the other information on that page. These warnings make clear that anyone considering using this drug should first learn everything they can about it, take all precautions very seriously and deal only with doctors and medical staff who are experienced as described by Roche and who will communicate openly, fully and clearly.
If you’re considering this treatment, be sure to discuss these official warnings with your doctor. Remember, even the most glowing clinical report can be subject to change, once the drug is in wider use.