An Overview of Epoetin Alfa (Epogen, Procrit)
March 22, 2007
Brand Name: Epogen, Procrit
Epoetin alfa is a man-made version of human erythropoietin (EPO). EPO is produced naturally in the body, mostly by the kidneys. It stimulates the bone marrow to produce red blood cells. If the body does not produce enough EPO, severe anemia can occur. This often occurs in people whose kidneys are not working properly. Epoetin is used to treat severe anemia in these people. Epoetin may also be used to prevent or treat anemia caused by cancer, surgery, or certain medications.
Indications and Usage
HIV infected people who take zidovudine (Retrovir) sometimes become anemic. Epoetin alfa is used to treat anemia that is related to zidovudine treatment.
Epoetin alfa comes in liquid form and is given by injection under the skin or into a vein.
Individuals should tell a doctor about any medical problems before taking this medicine. Individuals who have bone problems; blood problems, including a history of blood clots; a deficiency of folic acid, iron, or vitamin B12; heart or blood vessel disease; high blood pressure; history of seizures; or sickle cell anemia should tell a doctor before receiving this medicine.
Possible Side Effects
Along with its desired effects, epoetin alfa may cause some serious unwanted effects. A doctor should be notified right away of side effects that include chest pain or trouble breathing. A doctor should also be notified of any of the following: fast heartbeat; headache; high blood pressure; swelling of face, fingers, lower legs, ankles, or feet; vision problems; and weight gain. Individuals should tell a doctor if they have any of these side effects.Other side effects usually are not serious and may lessen or disappear with continued use of the medicine. Less serious side effects of this medicine include bone pain, congestion in the lungs, cough, diarrhea, fever, headache, itching or stinging where injection was given, loss of energy, nausea or vomiting, muscle weakness, skin rash or hives, tiredness, and weakness. Individuals should tell a doctor if these side effects continue or are bothersome.
A doctor should be notified of any other medications being taken, including prescription, nonprescription (over-the-counter), and herbal medications.
Click here to search ClinicalTrials.gov for trials that use Epoetin alfa.
Longer Dosing Intervals of Epoetin Alfa Are Effective in Maintaining Hemoglobin Levels in Anemic, HIV-Infected Patients
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