ITP Treatment Guideline Update
Medical Advisory Board, News, Research, Treatments

Updated treatment options for immune thrombocytopenia

Leading ITP clinicians come together and deliver consensus guidelines for the treatment of (ITP) in adult patients.

We would like to update readers on the treatment landscape for severe chronic immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) in the wake of recent welcome changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) reimbursement criteria in Australia and since the publication of our consensus treatment guidelines.1

First, splenectomy is no longer required to access thrombopoietin receptor agonists (TPO-RAs) such as romplostim and eltrombopag. This change aligns with management guidelines and clinical data showing no difference in outcome between patients with splenectomy versus those without splenectomy receiving TPO-RAs and permits ITP treatment selection best tailored towards patient preferences and clinical factors.14

Second, a new TPO-RA avatrombopag is now PBS listed as an alternative to romiplostim and eltrombopag. There are no head-to-head data to suggest superiority of one TPO-RA over another, but differing administration routes, dose schedules, interactions and side effect profiles may assist clinician–patient decision-making with treatment selection.

Table 1 highlights the main differences between the available TPO-RA agents.

Table 1 PBS-listed TPO-RA available for use in chronic ITP


Third, switching between TPO-RAs for any reason including tolerance or failure is now permissible at any time. Previously, switching was not allowed after 24 weeks of therapy, even after the development of an unanticipated adverse event or eventual loss of response. Although one may anticipate an equivalent TPO-RA class effect with these agents, retrospective data demonstrate switching between these drugs for inadequate responses can be successful with improved platelet counts and reductions in concomitant medications.56 Thus, with the relaxation of switching rules and the PBS listing of avatrombopag, we now have an additional line of therapy rather than just another oral alternative to romiplostim or eltrombopag.

Fourth, a clinical response as determined by the treating physician is sufficient to warrant ongoing PBS reimbursement in lieu of absolute platelet targets that were insensitive to clinically apparent improvements in bleeding and quality of life (QoL). Previously, the threshold for some patients to meet platelet response criteria devised for clinical trial environments was extremely difficult to achieve for PBS reimbursement purposes, even though there was clear benefit for patients in terms of reduced bleeding, improved platelet counts and lower concomitant ITP therapies. Along with penalising patients who needed intermittent rescue therapies, these measures had seemed to restrict TPO-RA access for the patients with the most severe disease. This has now been rectified as the threshold for ongoing use is clinically determined by the treating physician most cognisant of their patients’ medical priorities.

Finally, rituximab (intravenous B-cell depleting anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody) is now unrestricted on the PBS. Previously, off-label rituximab use was either self-funded or compassionately supported with a bias towards lower dosing schedules that were more cost-effective.7 Any new enthusiasm for PBS-reimbursed rituximab is probably balanced by recent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic concerns and tempered by previous analyses demonstrating only a modest long-term success rate, particularly when administered in monotherapy.89

There are still many uncertainties ahead for optimal ITP management such as targeting the natural history of ITP before it becomes chronic, exploring the role of TPO-RAs in earlier stages of ITP, predicting and targeting patients at the highest risk of bleeding and rationally drafting the optimal sequence or combination of novel and existing therapies for severely refractory patients.

Data from the iWISh survey suggest that patients prefer to halt the progression or worsening of their ITP above QoL and bleeding, in contradistinction to their physicians.10 The ultimate goal for most patients is to optimise initial therapy of newly diagnosed ITP to prevent progression to the chronic phase. The recent FLIGHT (Newly Diagnosed Immune Thrombocytopenia Testing the Standard Steroid Treatment Against Combined Steroid & Mycophenolate) study, which explored the addition of mycophenolate mofetil to corticosteroids in first-line therapy, demonstrated an improved response and a halving of the progression rate to chronic ITP. This was at the expense of worsened patient-reported QoL measures at the end of the study11; however, it seems reasonable to expect that the longer-term impact on cumulative disease and treatment burden by preventing the development of chronic ITP will eventually lead to better QoL.

Treatment strategies addressing the pervasive but insidious symptom of fatigue in ITP are also lacking. Patients with newly diagnosed ITP remain vulnerable to the uncertainties of their diagnosis, anxious about their prognosis, and still have limited treatment options available to them.

Despite these therapeutic challenges, we welcome these updates to the PBS listings for the TPO-RAs. We look forward to the promise of these and other novel agents in the modern treatment landscape ahead. Amongst newer therapies, fostamatinib (spleen associated tyrosine kinase inhibitor) was listed by the Food and Drug Administration for chronic ITP in 2018 but remains unavailable in Australia. Clinical trials in ITP have recently been completed for rilzabrutinib (Bruton’s tyrosine kinase [BTK] inhibitor) and efgartigimod (neonatal Fc receptor [FcRn] inhibitor).1213 As new clinical trials are opening across Australia now with B-cell activating factor [BAFF] and a proliferation-inducing ligand [APRIL] inhibitors, the prospect of better targeting the immune lesion in ITP beckons.

The authors of the guidelines include a number of ITP Australia Medical Advisors and include: Philip YI Choi, Eileen Merriman, Ashwini Bennett, Anoop K Enjeti, Chee Wee Tan, Isaac Goncalves, Danny Hsu and Robert Bird. ITP Australia has provided patient perspective feedback. 


  1. Choi PYMerriman EBennett AEnjeti AKTan CWGoncalves I et alConsensus guidelines for the management of adult immune thrombocytopenia in Australia and New ZealandMed J Aust 20222164352.
  2. Olney HJFogarty PFTarantino MDMayer BVasey SYBrainsky AEfficacy of eltrombopag in splenectomized versus nonsplenectomized patients with chronic ITP in the RAISE studyBlood 20101162512.
  3. Cines DBWasser JRodeghiero FChong BHSteurer MProvan D et alSafety and efficacy of romiplostim in splenectomized and nonsplenectomized patients with primary immune thrombocytopeniaHaematologica 201710213421351.
  4. Neunert CTerrell DRArnold DMBuchanan GCines DBCooper N et alAmerican Society of Hematology 2019 guidelines for immune thrombocytopeniaBlood Adv 2019338293866.
  5. Al-Samkari HJiang DGernsheimer TLiebman HLee SWojdyla M et alAdults with immune thrombocytopenia who switched to avatrombopag following prior treatment with eltrombopag or romiplostim: a multicentre US studyBr J Haematol 2022197359366.
  6. González-Porras JRGodeau BCarpenedo MSwitching thrombopoietin receptor agonist treatments in patients with primary immune thrombocytopeniaTher Adv Hematol 201910
  7. Lucchini EZaja FBussel JRituximab in the treatment of immune thrombocytopenia: what is the role of this agent in 2019? Haematologica 201910411241135.
  8. Rodeghiero FCantoni SCarli GCarpenedo MCarrai VChiurazzi F et alPractical recommendations for the management of patients with ITP during the COVID-19 pandemicMediterr J Hematol Infect Dis 202113: e2021032.
  9. Patel VLMahévas MLee SYStasi RCunningham-Rundles SGodeau B et alOutcomes 5 years after response to rituximab therapy in children and adults with immune thrombocytopeniaBlood 201211959895995.
  10. Cooper NKruse AKruse CWatson SMorgan MProvan D et alImmune thrombocytopenia (ITP) world impact survey (I-WISh): impact of ITP on health-related quality of lifeAm J Hematol 202196199207.
  11. Bradbury CAPell JHill QBagot CCooper NIngram J et alMycophenolate mofetil for first-line treatment of immune thrombocytopeniaN Engl J Med 2021385885895.
  12. Kuter DJEfraim MMayer JTrněný MMcDonald VBird R et alRilzabrutinib, an oral BTK inhibitor, in immune thrombocytopeniaN Engl J Med 202238614211431.
  13. Broome CMMcDonald VMiyakawa YCarpenedo MKuter DJAl-Samkari H et alEfficacy and safety of intravenous efgartigimod in adults with primary immune thrombocytopenia: results of a phase 3, multicenter, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial (ADVANCE IV)Blood 202214068.


Download the complete guidelines here.

ITP Australia new Zealand Treatment GuidelinesDownload your copy of this article here.

To review the guidelines in detail, review them below.



Source: Internal Medicine Journal (2023) 1–3         © 2023 Royal Australasian College of Physicians.Medical Journal of Australia

Publish Date: November 17, 2023