Drug therapy is used for polycythemia vera (PV) to lower platelet count. Your doctor may use one or more of the following drugs:
- Aspirin therapy. Low-dose aspirin may lessen your risk of developing a blood clot in an artery (thrombosis). It acts by making platelets less likely to clump to an artery wall. Aspirin is given by mouth.
- Anagrelide (Agrylin®)
- Antihistamines or related drugs. These drugs may be prescribed to relieve itching and are given by mouth. Side effects include dry mouth, drowsiness, dizziness and restlessness. Some antihistamines can impair a person’s ability to drive or operate heavy machinery.
- Myelosuppressive drugs. Myelosuppressive drugs are agents that can reduce red cell or platelet concentrations. In some patients, phlebotomy alone can't control the overproduction of red cells and can contribute to the platelets' overproduction. Myelosuppressive agents may be used if you have an extremely high platelet count, complications from bleeding or blood clots or other serious complications that don't respond to low-dose aspirin or phlebotomy. Your doctor may either combine drug therapy with phlebotomy or use it to replace phlebotomy to suppress your marrow's red cell and platelet production.
- Hydroxyurea (Hydrea®)
- Ruxolitinib (Jakafi®)
- Interferon alfa (immediate-release preparations Intron A® [alfa-2b] and Roferon-A® [alfa-2a] and sustained-release preparations PEG-Intron® [peginterferon alfa-2b] and Pegasys® [peginterferon alfa-2a])
For information about these drugs, visit Drug Listings.
- Chemotherapy and Other Drug Therapies
- Managing Side Effects
- Integrative Medicine and Complementary and Alternative Therapies
- Food and Nutrition
- Download or order The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's free booklet Understanding Side Effects of Drug Therapy