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Study Links Some Chemotherapy Drugs to Lethal Skin Conditions

Filed October 29th, 2013 Laurie

Certain chemotherapy drugs have been linked to serious and lethal dermatologic side effects, including toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) and Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS), according to findings published in the October 8 online issue of the journal Anticancer Drugs. TEN is a more severe form of SJS, though both are potentially fatal conditions that can cause cell death in the skin and mucus membranes, Drug Safety Monitor reported.

For the study, researchers culled data from existing literature and national databases, and analyzed the frequency of TEN and SJS, which are considered uncommon adverse events (AEs). Researchers examined cases reported in published literature as well as reports listed in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS). A total of 46 cases of SJS and 37 cases of TEN were identified in patients using chemotherapy drugs, according to Drug Safety Monitor.

Investigators stated that FAERS data demonstrated a significant association between the antineoplastic medications bendamustine (brand name Treanda) and SJS, while TEN was linked to bendamustine (Treanda), busulfan (Myleran), chlorambucil (Leukeran), fludarabine (Fludara, Oforta), lomustine (CeeNU), and procarbazine (Matulane). Antineoplastic medications are used to treat various types of cancers, including leukemias, lymphomas, brain tumors, and Hodgkin’s disease, Drug Safety Monitor reported.

According to Drug Safety Monitor, researchers used FAERS data (from 11/01/1997 to 12/31/2012) that was then aggregated and standardized by the AdverseEvent RxFilter process to identify 51 cases of SJS and 33 cases of TEN. The antineoplastic medications noted above were indicated as the primary suspect. Forty-four patients were hospitalized, and 21 patients died.

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