Critical appraisal of the role of ruxolitinib in myeloproliferative neoplasm-associated myelofibrosis

Giovanni Barosi, Vittorio Rosti, Robert Peter Gale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The recent approval of molecular-targeted therapies for myeloproliferative neoplasm-associated myelofibrosis (MPN-MF) has dramatically changed its therapeutic landscape. Ruxolitinib, a JAK1/JAK2 tyrosine kinase inhibitor, is now widely used for first- and second-line therapy in persons with MPN-MF, especially those with disease-related splenomegaly, intermediate- or high-risk disease, and constitutional symptoms. The goal of this work is to critically analyze data supporting use of ruxolitinib in the clinical settings approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Medicines Agency (EMA). We systematically reviewed the literature and analyzed the risk of biases in the two randomized studies (COMFORT I and COMFORT II) on which FDA and EMA approval was based. Our strategy was to apply the Grading of Recommendation, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach by evaluating five dimensions of evidence: (1) overall risk of bias, (2) imprecision, (3) inconsistency, (4) indirectness, and (5) publication bias. Based on these criteria, we downgraded the evidence from the COMFORT I and COMFORT II trials for performance, attrition, and publication bias. In the disease-associated splenomegaly sphere, we upgraded the quality of evidence because of large effect size but downgraded it because of comparator choice and outcome indirectness (quality of evidence, low). In the sphere of treating persons with intermediate- or high-risk disease, we downgraded the evidence because of imprecision in effect size measurement and population indirectness. In the sphere of disease-associated symptoms, we upgraded the evidence because of the large effect size, but downgraded it because of comparator indirectness (quality of evidence, moderate). In conclusion, using the GRADE technique, we identified factors affecting the quality of evidence that were otherwise unstated. Identifying and evaluating these factors should influence the confidence with which physicians use ruxolitinib in persons with MPN-MF.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1091-1102
Number of pages12
JournalOncoTargets and Therapy
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Critical appraisal
  • JAK inhibitor
  • Myelofibrosis
  • Myeloproliferative neoplasm-associated myelofibrosis
  • Ruxolitinib

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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