Expert Discusses the Safety of Vemurafenib

At the 2019 Hairy Cell Leukemia Foundation Annual Conference new findings showed promise in the safety of vemurafenib to treat patients with hairy cell leukemia.

Vemurafenib (Zelboraf) is a safe treatment option for heavily pretreated patients with hairy cell leukemia (HCL) who have progressed on moxetumomab pasudotox (Lumoxiti), according to Agnieszka Janus, MD, PhD.

“From our experience, this is a drug that works even if we treated patients before with moxetumomab pasudotox, and it provides them with an opportunity to achieve CRs, even when we have exhausted all other treatment options,” added Janus, at the 2019 Hairy Cell Leukemia Foundation Annual Conference in an interview with OncLive, a sister publication to Oncology Nursing News.

Janus, from the Copernicus Memorial Hospital in Poland, shared with OncLive the experience of patients on vemurafenib in the clinical trial that determined its effectiveness. Janus also discussed some of the side effects from vemurafenib that investigators were able to manage.


The most common side effects that patients complain about are arthritis, photosensitivity, arthralgia, and skin rash. But all those side effects are feasible for them to [manage] when we reduce the dose of vemurafenib or when we add some steroids to the treatment. We also didn’t observe any severe adverse events and didn’t have to interrupt the treatments due to adverse events, so it’s safe and causes quite a rapid morphology recovery. Within in the first 3-4 weeks, we are able to see improvement in the morphology [of the disease], which makes this treatment safe in patients who are at risk of severe infections.