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Drugs. 1994 Nov;48(5):731-60.

Filgrastim. A review of its pharmacological properties and therapeutic efficacy in neutropenia.

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  • 1Adis International Ltd, Auckland, New Zealand.


Filgrastim, a recombinant human granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF), has identical biological activity to that of endogenous human G-CSF, but differs in that it contains an N-terminal methionine residue and is not glycosylated. It principally stimulates activation, proliferation and differentiation of neutrophil progenitor cells and has been evaluated in the treatment of patients with various neutropenic conditions, both iatrogenic and disease-related. Two comparative studies have demonstrated that prophylactic administration of filgrastim 230 micrograms/m2/day significantly reduces the incidence, duration and severity of neutropenia in patients with previously untreated small-cell lung cancer receiving standard-dose chemotherapy with CDE (cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin plus etoposide). Concomitant with the amelioration of neutropenia, the incidence of febrile neutropenia was significantly reduced by 50% and there were 35 and 50% decreases in hospitalisation rates and intravenous antibiotic requirements. Since not all patients receiving standard-dose chemotherapy are at risk of infectious complications, prophylactic filgrastim use may be reserved for those patients who have developed febrile neutropenia during a previous cycle of the same regimen. This strategy may prove less costly, although potential savings must be weighed against a greater risk of patient morbidity and reduced quality of life. When combined with standard intravenous antibiotic therapy, filgrastim further decreases morbidity in patients with established febrile neutropenia and may have a positive impact on overall treatment costs by shortening the length of hospitalisation. Attention is focused on the use of haematopoietic growth factors to support dose-intensification of chemotherapy with a view to improving treatment outcomes in patients with chemo-responsive tumours. Filgrastim, used alone, permits modest increases in dose-intensity and/or dose-escalation of some standard-dose chemotherapy regimens. Moreover, the drug has proven useful as an adjunct to myeloablative chemotherapy followed by stem cell rescue with autologous bone marrow transplantation and/or peripheral blood progenitor cells. However, the impact of these dose-intensification approaches on survival remains to be determined in well-controlled clinical studies. Filgrastim is effective in increasing the neutrophil count and decreasing morbidity in patients with severe chronic neutropenia, including Kostmann's syndrome, and in idiopathic and cyclic neutropenia. In addition, filgrastim has accelerated neutrophil recovery in patients with idiosyncratic drug-induced agranulocytosis. Available data indicate that filgrastim is generally well tolerated. The most frequent adverse reaction is mild to moderate medullary bone pain, reported by approximately 20% of patients, although this can generally be controlled using simple analgesics without the need to discontinue treatment.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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