Drugs A - Z

Epoetin Alfa (Hamster) Solution for injection

This medicine is used to treat anemia caused by chronic kidney failure, cancer chemotherapy, or HIV-... more

Generic Name: epoetin alfa

Brand Names: Procrit, Epogen

There is an FDA Alert for this drug. Click here to view it.

Special Alerts:

[Posted 06/24/2011] ISSUE: FDA notified healthcare professionals that new, modified recommendations for more conservative dosing of Erythropoiesis-Stimulating Agents (ESAs) in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) have been approved to improve the safe use of these drugs. FDA has made these recommendations because of data showing increased risks of cardiovascular events with ESAs in this patient population. The new dosing recommendations are based on clinical trials showing that using ESAs to target a hemoglobin level of greater than 11 g/dL in patients with CKD provides no additional benefit than lower target levels, and increases the risk of experiencing serious adverse cardiovascular events, such as heart attack or stroke.

BACKGROUND: ESAs treat certain types of anemia by stimulating the bone marrow to produce red blood cells and by decreasing the need for blood transfusions. The manufacturer has revised the Boxed Warning, Warnings and Precautions, and Dosage and Administration sections of the labels for the ESAs to include this new information.

RECOMMENDATION: Healthcare professionals should weigh the possible benefits of using ESAs to decrease the need for red blood cell transfusions in CKD patients against the increased risks for serious cardiovascular events, and should inform their patients of the current understanding of potential risks and benefits. Therapy should be individualized to the patient and the lowest possible ESA dose given to reduce the need for transfusions. See the Drug Safety Communication for additional information including a table of key trials and other supporting references. Treatment with ESAs in CKD was discussed at the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee, held October 18, 2010. For summary minutes of that Advisory Committee, see the following link: [Web]. For more information visit the FDA website at: [Web] and [Web].

REMS:

FDA approved a REMS for epoetin alfa to ensure that the benefits of a drug outweigh the risks. The REMS may apply to one or more preparations of epoetin alfa and consists of the following: medication guide, elements to assure safe use, communication plan, and implementation system. See the FDA REMS page ([Web]) or the ASHP REMS Resource Center ([Web]).

What is this medicine?

EPOETIN ALFA (e POE e tin AL fa) helps your body make more red blood cells. This medicine is used to treat anemia caused by chronic kidney failure, cancer chemotherapy, or HIV-therapy. It may also be used before surgery if you have anemia.

What should I tell my health care provider before I take this medicine?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:
  • blood clotting disorders
  • cancer patient not on chemotherapy
  • cystic fibrosis
  • heart disease, such as angina or heart failure
  • hemoglobin level of 12 g/dL or greater
  • high blood pressure
  • low levels of folate, iron, or vitamin B12
  • seizures
  • an unusual or allergic reaction to erythropoietin, albumin, benzyl alcohol, hamster proteins, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives
  • pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • breast-feeding

How should I use this medicine?

This medicine is for injection into a vein or under the skin. It is usually given by a health care professional in a hospital or clinic setting.

If you get this medicine at home, you will be taught how to prepare and give this medicine. Use exactly as directed. Take your medicine at regular intervals. Do not take your medicine more often than directed.

It is important that you put your used needles and syringes in a special sharps container. Do not put them in a trash can. If you do not have a sharps container, call your pharmacist or healthcare provider to get one.

Talk to your pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine in children. While this drug may be prescribed for selected conditions, precautions do apply.

What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, take only that dose. Do not take double or extra doses.

What may interact with this medicine?

Do not take this medicine with any of the following medications:
  • darbepoetin alfa

What should I watch for while using this medicine?

Visit your prescriber or health care professional for regular checks on your progress and for the needed blood tests and blood pressure measurements. It is especially important for the doctor to make sure your hemoglobin level is in the desired range, to limit the risk of potential side effects and to give you the best benefit. Keep all appointments for any recommended tests. Check your blood pressure as directed. Ask your doctor what your blood pressure should be and when you should contact him or her.

As your body makes more red blood cells, you may need to take iron, folic acid, or vitamin B supplements. Ask your doctor or health care provider which products are right for you. If you have kidney disease continue dietary restrictions, even though this medication can make you feel better. Talk with your doctor or health care professional about the foods you eat and the vitamins that you take.


Last Updated: December 01, 2009
Licensed from
The Healthline Site, its content, such as text, graphics, images, search results, HealthMaps, Trust Marks, and other material contained on the Healthline Site ("Content"), its services, and any information or material posted on the Healthline Site by third parties are provided for informational purposes only. None of the foregoing is a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Healthline Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Please read the Terms of Service for more information regarding use of the Healthline Site.
Advertisement