Clarithromycin with low dose dexamethasone and thalidomide is effective therapy in relapsed/refractory myeloma


Professor T. C. M. Morris, Consultant Haematologist, Department of Haematology, Belfast City Hospital Trust, Lisburn Road, Belfast BT9 7AB, UK. E-mail:


A combination of clarithromycin, low dose of thalidomide and low dose dexamethasone was used in a phase II study to treat patients with relapsed and refractory myeloma. Thirty patients received clarithromycin 250 mg twice daily and thalidomide 50 mg at night on an ongoing basis with 4-d pulses of 10 mg dexamethasone given monthly. Eight patients had permitted escalation of thalidomide dosage up to 200 mg daily. The combination was well tolerated and could be given to elderly, infirm and severely cytopenic patients. Response rates were high, with 89% achieving at least 50% reduction in paraprotein and a 96% overall response rate. Although clarithromycin has only minimal anti-myeloma properties when used as a single agent, its combination with thalidomide and dexamethasone appears very effective, allowing these to be used in lower and more tolerable doses with good clinical effects.