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Epoetin alfa

Audience: Neurological healthcare professionals

Posted 09/23/2008] FDA has been made aware of preliminary safety findings from a clinical trial conducted in Germany investigating the use of epoetin alfa to treat acute ischemic stroke. The clinical trial utilized doses of epoetin alfa that were considerably higher than the doses recommended for the treatment of anemia as described in the FDA-approved labeling for the product. Over a period of ninety days after the start of the trial, there were more deaths in the group of patients who received epoetin alfa compared to patients who received the placebo (16% versus 9%). Roughly half of all deaths in both groups occurred within the first seven days after starting the drug, with death from intracranial hemorrhage (bleeding within the brain) occurring among approximately 4% of patients who received epoetin alfa compared to 1% of patients in the placebo group.

FDA anticipates the receipt of additional data within the next several weeks. As soon as the review of these data is complete, FDA will communicate our conclusions and recommendations to the public. The finding of increased mortality in patients receiving epoetin alfa in the German trial suggests the need to closely monitor patients enrolled in other ongoing trials for adverse outcomes and to evaluate whether the potential benefits for enrolled patients outweigh the risks in these trials.

[September 26, 2008 - Early Communication about an Ongoing Safety Review - FDA]