Purpose: This randomized phase III study compared bendamustine and prednisone (BP) to standard melphalan and prednisone (MP) treatment in previously untreated patients with multiple Myeloma (MM).
Patients and methods: To be included, patients had to have histologically and cytologically proven stage II with progressive diseases or stage III MM. They were randomly assigned to receive BP (n=68) or MP (n=63). The primary endpoint was the time to treatment failure (TTF). Secondary endpoints included survival, remission rate, toxicity and quality of life.
Results: The overall response rate was 75% in the BP and 70% in the MP group. A significantly higher number of patients treated with BP achieved a complete remission than did patients receiving MP (32 vs. 13%; P=0.007), and the maximum response was achieved more rapidly in patients treated with BP compared to those receiving MP (6.8 vs. 8.7 cycles; P<0.02). TTF and remission duration were significantly longer in the BP group. Patients receiving BP had higher QoL scores and reported pain less frequently than patients receiving MP.
Conclusion: BP is superior to MP with respect to complete remission rate, TTF, cycles needed to achieve maximum remission and quality of life and should be considered the new standard in first-line treatment of MM patients not eligible for transplantation.