Aranesp (darbepoetin alfa)

Aranesp (darbepoetin alfa) is an injectable drug used to treat low red blood cell counts (anemia) either in people with long-term kidney failure, also known as chronic renal failure, or in people with certain types of cancer (non-myeloid) who are receiving chemotherapy. In clinical trials, Aranesp was shown to effectively increase the number of red blood cells in most patients with kidney disease.

Why Prescribed

Aranesp is prescribed to treat anemia caused by chemotherapy. Anemia is a common side effect of chemotherapy, which can damage the production of red blood cells.

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FDA Approved Uses

Aranesp has been approved by the FDA to treat anemia associated with chronic renal failure (renal disease) in people with reduced kidney function, people who are on dialysis, or those receiving certain HIV treatment.

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Side Effects

Moderate side effects can include headache, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, cough, or constipation. Serious side effects can include pain/irritation/redness/bruising at the injection site, other pain (e.g., muscle, joint, back, stomach, or chest pain), unusual tiredness/weakness, and/or swelling of the arms and legs.

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Warnings and Alerts

Together with the FDA, Aranesp’ maker, Amgen, has sent a letter to doctors advising them of a revision to the warning label for Aranesp. Two recent studies with other drugs in the same class of Aranesp, known as erythropoietic drugs, have shown that using the drugs at higher-than-recommended doses increases the risk of adverse effects including extreme high blood pressure, blood clots and death.

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Drug Contraindications

Aranesp is contraindicated in patients with uncontrolled hypertension and known hypersensitivity to the active substance.

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FAQ's

What is darbepoetin alfa?

Darbepoetin alfa is a man-made form of a protein that helps your body produce red blood cells. The amount of this protein in your body may be reduced when you have kidney failure or use certain medications. When fewer red blood cells are produced, you can develop a condition called anemia.

What should I discuss with my doctor before taking Aranesp (darbepoetin alfa)?

Before using Aranesp, tell your doctor if you have:

  • heart disease or high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • a history of stroke or blood clots
  • cancer
  • epilepsy or another seizure disorder

What other drugs will affect Aranesp (darbepoetin alfa)?

It is not known whether Aranesp will interact with other medicines. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors.

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