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Erythropoiesis Stimulating Agents (ESAs) - Epoetin alfa (marketed as Procrit, Epogen), Darbepoetin alfa (marketed as Aranesp)

Audience: Oncologists, other healthcare professionals

[UPDATE 12/02/2008] FDA issued Q&As for recently approved Medication Guides. The Medication Guides were developed to provide patients with important information about the risks of using ESAs. The information in the Medication Guides may affect a patient’s decision to take the drug and it gives patients a starting point for discussion with their healthcare provider about the medical decision to prescribe an ESA.

[UPDATE 08/08/2008] Amgen, Ortho Biotech letter added.

[Posted 07/31/2008] FDA informed healthcare professionals of modifications to certain sections of the Boxed Warnings, Indications and Usage, and Dosage and Administration sections of prescribing information for Erythropoiesis Stimulating Agents (ESAs). The changes clarify the FDA-approved conditions for use of ESAs in patients with cancer and revise directions for dosing to state the hemoglobin level at which treatment with an ESA should be initiated. Additional revisions to prescribing information that ESAs are not intended for use in patients receiving myelosuppressive therapy when the expected outcome is cure and when to initiate and discontinue ESA dosing will be forthcoming. FDA continues to encourage healthcare professionals to discuss with their patients before starting or continuing therapy with ESAs, the benefits of treatment with ESAs and the potential and demonstrated risks of ESAs for thrombovascular events, shortened time to tumor progression or recurrence, and shortened survival time.

[December 02, 2008 - Q&As on Medication Guides - FDA]
[November 2008 - Medication Guide: Procrit]
[August 07, 2008 - Letter - Amgen, Ortho Biotech]
[July 30, 2008 - Follow Up to Ongoing Safety Review - FDA]