Polycythemia vera (PV) is a rare blood disorder in which the bone marrow makes too many red blood cells. The standard treatment is a drug called hydroxyurea along with phlebotomy (blood-letting) to relieve symptoms (such as fatigue, itching, muscle aches, and sweats). However, some patients continue to have symptoms despite this therapy.
In this study, researchers are comparing the effectiveness of ruxolitinib versus hydroxyurea in patients with PV to see if ruxolitinib is more effective for relieving symptoms and reducing the need for phlebotomy. Ruxolitinib is a drug approved for the treatment of myelofibrosis (scarring of the bone marrow); its use in this study is considered investigational. It works by inhibiting a protein called JAK, which may be abnormal in bone marrow disorders such as PV.
Patients will be randomly assigned to receive ruxolitinib plus a placebo or hydroxyurea plus a placebo. Both drugs are taken orally (by mouth).