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Anemia from Ribavirin: Ideas to get Procrit??
Aug 6, 2003

Hi Dr Bob and Welcome back home.

I am six months into treatment for my Hep C-- genotype 1a. (I have been clean nearly ten years.) My viral load was high--approx 30,000,000 but i was happy to learn the virus was already "undetectable" at 12 wks. Now however, I have begun having some treatment complications: First my thyroid quit (TSH was way up... to 86.) I was very symptomatic (exhaustion, weight gain, severely weak, clumsy, slow speech, moon faced, painful wrists/hands and freezing cold.) I began Synthroid last month which has begun to help but will take a while to fine tune. Since then, my HgB dropped to 8.1. I tried to obtain Procrit thru Patient Assistance at OrthoBiotech but just found out they only provide assist. to cancer patients, renal patients or co-infected folks. (I only have Hep C) Two weeks ago I acquired a UTI/ kidney infection, so it seems my whole system is out of whack (WBC are 2.0) right now. A friend gave me two weeks worth of Procrit--wow--what improvement in this last week! That's been sweet relief but without a longer dosing period, I fear I'll slip back into the lethargy, headaches, shortness of breath, brain fog, etc., of anemia. Are there any medication- sharing programs you're familiar with, in the HIV /Hep community? I live in the bay area... seems like there must be some grassroots groups. I sure would love to get a full prescription of Procrit (I have an M.D. order) but am completely uninsured since my Cobra ran out in January.) (This rx sure is a bear)

Thanks in advance for the great work you do! Kaylynn

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Kaylynn,

There were a few clinical trials open using Procrit to treat anemic complications resulting from Hep C combination therapy, but I'm not sure if enrollment is still open or not. Ask the doctor who is prescribing your Hep C therapy if he has any information on these clinical trials. Second, you could try writing directly to Ortho Biotech, and explain your situation. Some of the problem may have to do with FDA-approved indications. Procrit is FDA-approved for certain specific conditions such as anemia associated with HIV and cancer. The expanded indications are still pending. Perhaps the company can only provide medications for approved indications. I'm only guessing on this. But it might be worth at least writing a letter to them. My field is HIV/AIDS, so I'm not up on all the Hep C organizations, clinical trials or assistance programs for individuals with Hep C alone (as compared with Hep C / HIV co-infection). Again, your Hep C specialist should be a good resource for you. Good luck.

Dr. Bob


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