epoetin alfa, Epogen, Procrit (cont.)

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PRESCRIBED FOR: Epoetin alfa is used to treat anemia that is associated with chronic kidney failure in patients who are or will be receiving renal dialysis. It also is used to treat anemia in patients with HIV infection who are receiving zidovudine (Retrovir) and in patients with cancer who are receiving chemotherapy and develop anemia. Epoetin alfa may be used to replace transfusions of red blood cells in patients who are anemic and undergoing surgery. Epoetin alfa has not been shown to improve fatigue or quality of life in patients with cancer.

DOSING: Epoetin alfa is administered intravenously or subcutaneously (under the skin) at 50-100 units/kg of body weight, three times weekly. The dose is tailored to each patient based on targeted hemoglobin levels. Adult patients with cancer receiving chemotherapy may be treated with 40,000 units weekly or 150 units/kg 3 times weekly.

Zidovudine treated patients should receive 100 units/kg 3 times weekly.

Surgery patients should receive 300 units/kg per day daily for 14 days or 600 units/kg weekly. The smallest effective dose should be used.

In clinical trials, the risk of death or serious heart problems, and stroke occurred more often when epoetin alpha was administered to target a hemoglobin level greater than 11 g/dL. Epoetin alfa vials should not be shaken since the drug may be damaged, and bubbles may form that prevent some of the drug from being drawn up into the syringe during injection. Iron stores should be evaluated before therapy and supplemental iron should be administered if needed.

DRUG INTERACTIONS: No clinical studies have been done to demonstrate epoetin alfa drug interactions.



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