Velcade (bortezomib) is a drug that was recently approved for myeloma. It has about a 30% response rate. When thalidomide quit working in early 2005, Richard was started on Velcade. Velcade is given IV. Side effects include neuropathy, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anemia, neutropenia, and thrombocytopenia. After his first dose, the developed a very low neutrophil count and ended up with what is called a neutropenic fever, a fairly common phenomenon in chemo patients. He then had to be treated with IV antibiotics for 10 days. He also developed anemia that was treated with Aranesp.
The next three cycles went better, but he still had to take time off for treatments, and that would have been ok if the treatment had worked. Unfortunately, there was no response to Velcade, so on to the next thing.