Several controlled studies have evidenced good efficacy and short-term and mid-term safety profiles for hydroxyurea (HU), which has become the cornerstone for prevention of sickle-cell disease (SCD)-related vaso-occlusive crises. However, there are few large-scale reports on its long-term use and certain caregivers and patients have concerns about its safety. Following the licensing of HU in Europe for children and adults with severe forms of SCD, ESCORT-HU was designed as a Phase IV observational cohort study. It included 1906 participants, of whom 55% were adults. The most common hemoglobin (Hb) genotypes were HbSS (84.7%) and HbSβ+ (7.0%). The median duration of follow-up was 45 months, for a total of 7309 patient-years of observation. The dose of HU after 1 year was 20.6 mg/kg/d for children and 16.3 mg/kg/d for adults. There was a statistically significant decrease in the number of vaso-occlusive episodes lasting >48 h, acute chest syndrome episodes, hospitalizations, and the percentage of patients requiring blood transfusions within the first 12 months relative to the year before enrolment. Neutropenia and thrombocytopenia were the most commonly reported adverse effects. No new HU toxicity was identified. Overall, 125 pregnancies were reported in 101 women and no malformations were observed in the neonates. There were 12 pregnancies for partners of male patients treated with HU. One case of fatal myelodysplastic syndrome was reported, for which a causal association with HU could not be excluded. This cohort study of patients with SCD highlights the positive benefit-to-risk ratio of HU in children and adults.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02516579.
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