Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a myeloproliferative neoplasm constituting approximately 15% of newly diagnosed leukemia in adult patients. Development of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) have dramatically improved outcomes in patients with chronic CML in chronic phase. However, adverse drug events (ADEs) associated with TKI therapy have influenced drug adherence, resulting in adverse clinical outcomes and a decline in the quality of life (QoL). In this study, we carried out a unique questionnaire survey to evaluate ADEs, which comprised 14 adverse events. We compared drug adherence rates between patients using imatinib and those who switched from imatinib to nilotinib, a second-generation TKI. Following the switch, the total number of ADEs decreased considerably in most cases. Simultaneously, better QoL was observed in the nilotinib group than in the imatinib group. Drug adherence was measured using Morisky’s 9-item Medication Adherence Scale (MMAS). MMAS increased significantly after switching to nilotinib in all cases. Drug adherence is a critical factor for achieving molecular response in patients with CML. In fact, our results showed a strong inverse correlation between clinical outcome (international scale (IS)) and adherence (MMAS), with a stronger tendency in the nilotinib group than in the imatinib group. In conclusion, low occurrence of ADEs induced a high level of QoL and a good clinical response with second-generation TKI nilotinib treatment.
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