The role of haematopoietic growth factors granulocyte colony-stimulating factor and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor in the management of drug-induced agranulocytosis.
Drug-induced agranulocytosis (neutrophil count <0.5 x 10(9)/l) is a rare haematological complication with an incidence of no more than 10 cases per million inhabitants per year in Europe. Over the past few years there has been a steady decline in mortality rate, (currently at <5%), which can be partly explained by earlier recognition and the improved clinical management of associated intercurrent infections that may lead to severe sepsis if left untreated. The true impact of the use of haematopoietic growth factors, such as granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), on the decreased mortality rate remains unknown. Yet, most studies show that these molecules, especially G-CSF, reduce the duration of agranulocytosis, antibiotic course and length of hospital stay. Their use is particularly recommended in patients with poor prognostic factors, such as a neutrophil count <0.1 x 10(9)/l, age over 65 years, severe infection or multiple co-morbidities. In all cases, the drug responsible for causing the agranulocytosis must be discontinued and remain permanently contraindicated. The appropriate Medicines Regulatory Agency must also be notified of the adverse event.