One of the most common adverse events with this product affects the eyes.
Ocular adverse reactions occurred in 77% of the 218 patients in the pooled safety population and included keratopathy (76%), changes in visual acuity (55%), blurred vision (27%), and dry eye (19%).
Corneal adverse events were monitored with eye exams prior to each dose, allowing dose reductions or interruptions as appropriate, the manufacturer noted. Patients also used preservative-free eyedrops. Keratopathy leading to treatment discontinuation affected 2.1% of patients in the 2.5-mg/kg cohort.
Because of this ocular toxicity, the company has set up a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS) for the product. This requires education for all physicians who prescribe the product as well as their patients regarding the ocular risks associated with treatment. It also requires monitoring that includes regular ophthalmic examinations. Information about the scheme can be found at www.blenreprems.com.
At the FDA advisory committee meeting last month, one of the panelists, Gita Thanarajasingam, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minn., said belantamab appeared to be well tolerated but for ocular toxicity. Physicians need to acknowledge how severe this risk may be for patients while keeping in mind that belantamab still may be more tolerable for some people than current treatments.
“It’s reasonable to leave open the option for decision making. Patients can express their values and preferences,” Dr. Thanarajasingam said. “There’s adequate, albeit not complete, information to guide this risk-benefit discussion in a REMS program.”
Another panelist, Heidi D. Klepin, MD, a professor at Wake Forest University Health Sciences, Winston Salem, N.C., agreed that the informed consent process should allow patients “to choose whether the trade-off is worth it to them” with belantamab.
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