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Oncology (Williston Park). 2004 Dec;18(14 Suppl 11):14-21.

Pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, and practical applications of bortezomib.

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University of Pittsburgh, School of Pharmacy, Pennsylvania 15261, USA.


Bortezomib (PS-341, Velcade) is a novel, first-in-class proteasome inhibitor with antitumor activity against a number of hematologic and nonhematologic malignancies. Based on the results of phase II clinical trials, bortezomib received accelerated US Food and Drug Administration approval on May 13, 2003, for the treatment of multiple myeloma patients whose disease has progressed after they have received at least two prior conventional therapies. The results of phase III studies evaluating bortezomib as first- or second-line therapy, or in combination with other commonly prescribed therapies in multiple myeloma patients, are eagerly awaited. Studies assessing the antitumor effects of bortezomib in other hematologic malignancies and solid tumors are also under way. A thorough understanding of the pharmacology, pharmacodynamics, and pharmacokinetics of this novel compound is essential for appropriate prescribing and monitoring of bortezomib therapy. Bortezomib is rapidly distributed into tissues after administration of a single dose, with an initial plasma distribution half-life of less than 10 minutes, followed by a terminal elimination half-life of more than 40 hours. Maximum proteasome inhibition occurs within 1 hour and recovers close to baseline within 72 to 96 hours after administration. Bortezomib is primarily metabolized by oxidative deboronation to one of two inactive enantiomers that are further processed and eliminated, both renally and in bile. Bortezomib has been shown to be a substrate of several cytochrome P450 isoenzymes using in vitro systems. Adverse effects of bortezomib are generally mild and effectively managed with supportive care. Bortezomib should be administered with caution to patients with preexisting fluid retention and patients with baseline platelet counts of less than 70,000/microL. Dose reductions are recommended for patients experiencing peripheral neuropathy, grade 3 or higher nonhematologic toxicities, or grade 4 hematologic toxicities. Formal drug interaction studies have not been performed, but bortezomib has been administered in combination with a variety of antitumor agents without significant alterations to its pharmacokinetic or pharmacodynamic profile.

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