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Is Glivec an effective medication for Chronic Myloid Leukemia?

Q: I am suffering from Chronic Myloid Leukaemia since three years and the platelet count was around 2 lakhs. Around 8 months back, the doctor recommended to go for Glivec caps (4 times a day) and he is under Glivec caps since last 8 months. I am interested to know the following. Is this fully curable with Glivec caps? How long this medicine will continue? Initially doctor suggested that if we take regularly 6 months and after he will not require the medicine again? Now again doctor is saying that I have to continue for another 6 months? As this medicine is expensive so it is difficult to bear the expenses. Are doctors cheating us? Now the doctor has recommended another version of the same medicine i.e. Veenat - developed by Natco Pharma. My concern is whether this new medicine is ok for the CML patients and is it good to change the medicine? How effective is this medicine?

A:The correct name of the brand is Glivec. It contains a medicine called imatinib mesylate. It is useful in certain specific stages of Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML) such as in blast crisis, accelerated or chronic phase after failure of interferon alfa therapy. It is presumed that interferon alfa therapy was given before starting on imatinib. The failure is scientifically defined on 6 parameters. The total duration of treatment can last up to 18 months. Glivec is quite expensive. If possible the drug should be procured directly from abroad. Too many substandard and fake drugs are being sold in India, particularly when they are expensive. We are unable to confirm the quality of any brand developed in India. The clinical outcome of CML patients is variable and differs from patient to patient. Generally the patients go into remission after treatment rather than getting cured.

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