CHICAGO, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Two Northwestern University researchers are calling for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to inform cancer patients of the danger of thalidomide.
Thalidomide, which was approved by the FDA as an off-label cancer treatment in 1998, has reportedly caused potentially fatal blood clots in the legs and the lungs in over 190 cancer patients.
A Northwestern study by Dr. Andrew Evens, instructor in medicine, and Dr. Charles Bennett, professor of medicine, identified the occurrence of potentially fatal blood clots in the legs and the lungs in up to 20 percent or more of cancer patients who received thalidomide.
Virtually all patients who have received thalidomide over the past six years have received the drug for cancer, making the drug the only one in the country whose use is exclusively off label.
Thalidomide was banned in 1962 based on birth defects, but has had a remarkable resurgence since 1998 for cancer, although its formal FDA approval is as a treatment of skin complication of the rare illness leprosy.