Oral mucositis (OM) is an acute, severe and often dose-limiting toxicity in patients undergoing HSCT. OM significantly affects functional status and patients’ quality of life; however no effective therapy was available for this condition. Palifermin (Kepivance®) is a human keratinocyte growth factor (KGF) produced by recombinant DNA technology. KGF binds to its receptor on epithelial cells, stimulating their proliferation, differentiation, and migration. Palifermin has been shown to decrease the incidence and duration of severe OM in patients with hematologic malignancies receiving myelotoxic therapy and HSCT. In Italy, compassionate use protocols are considered EAP and are regulated by a decree issued by the Ministry of Health (MoH) on May 8th 2003. The objective of the Decree is to ensure that patients have access to experimental therapies outside clinical trials, when no valid therapeutic alternative exists. Approval is granted in case of serious or rare diseases or life-threatening conditions. After Ethical Committee (EC) approval and notification to MoH, the drug can be supplied in response to an unsolicited request from a physician. The drug is then administered under the physician’s direct responsibility. During EAP, the Decree allows collection of the patient’s data similar to an observational trial. From July 2005 through July 2006 a total of 26 centers have requested the drug and obtained approval from local EC. Each center collected the following data on a case report form: vital signs, disease status and treatment, palifermin administration, mucositis, analgesic use, parenteral supplementation, common laboratory tests and duration of hospitalization. A total of 175 adults patients with hematological malignancies treated with autologous SCT participated in the EAP. In an interim analysis, data from 41 patients (24 men; 17 women; median age 52.44) were analyzed. The most common diagnoses were multiple myeloma (MM) (n=16) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) (n=15). Conditioning therapy and supportive care were administered according to standard institutional practice (high-dose melphalan for MM and the BEAM regimen for NHL). Palifermin 60 mcg/kg/day was given intravenously on 3 consecutive days before the conditioning regimen and on 3 days starting on the day of stem cell infusion. OM was evaluated daily for 28 days after transplantation or until severe OM resolution using the five-grade World Health Organization (WHO) oral-toxicity scale. Safety was assessed on the basis of the incidence of adverse events. The incidence of severe OM (Grade 3–4) was 17% and the mean duration was 2.2 ± 3.5 days (CI, 1.1–3.3) in patients with OM Grade 0–4 while in patients with OM G3-4 the mean duration was 6.9 ± 2.5 (CI, 4.5–9.2). Adverse events (mainly rash, pruritus, erythema, mouth and tongue disorders, and taste alteration) were mild to moderate in severity and were transient. The frequency of adverse events was consistent with those observed in clinical trials. In conclusion, the Italian EAP experience with palifermin suggested that results were consistent with those of pivotal studies in patients with hematologic malignancies undergoing HSCT. From the results of the interim analysis of the Italian EAP, the use of palifermin in this setting appears to be feasible and was widely accepted by participating physicians and patients.

Disclosures: Cavagna, Bonifacio and Benincasa are Amgen employees in Italy.

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