How are bleeding risk factors managed in the treatment of immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) in adults?

Updated: Jun 28, 2019
  • Author: Craig M Kessler, MD, MACP; Chief Editor: Srikanth Nagalla, MBBS, MS, FACP  more...
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Additional precautions are required for patients with hypertension, peptic ulcers, recent aspirin ingestion, or other risk factors for increased bleeding. Considerations are as follows:

  • Aspirin inhibits platelet function by acetylating platelet cyclooxygenase, increasing the risk of bleeding because it adds a platelet functional defect to the quantitative defect already present from the severe thrombocytopenia. In addition, platelet dysfunction may be induced by the platelet antibody, which is potentiated by the superimposition of the aspirin-platelet defect. Because of this effect, aspirin is contraindicated in persons with ITP.

  • Adults whose platelet counts are greater than 50 × 109/L (>50 × 103/µL) typically have minimal purpura, and the risk of a severe hemorrhage is low. They may be treated without a specific medication.

  • Platelet transfusions may be required to control clinically significant bleeding but are not recommended for prophylaxis. Transfused platelets also have decreased circulation, and repeated platelet transfusions may lead to platelet alloimmunization.

Fostamatinib was approved by the FDA in April 2018 for thrombocytopenia in adults with chronic ITP who have had an insufficient response to a previous treatment. It is the first spleen tyrosine kinase (SYK) inhibitor approved in the US. Approval was based on the FIT clinical program (n=163), which included 2 randomized placebo-controlled phase 3 trials and an open-label extension trial. Results from the randomized trials showed more patients experienced a platelet response with fostamatinib than with placebo (18% vs 0% and 16% vs 4%). In the open-label expansion trial, 23% of patients who had received placebo in the previous randomized trials experienced a platelet response. Fewer bleeding episodes were observed in patients in the fostamatinib arm compared with placebo (29% vs 37%). [51]

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