Epoetin Alfa

Where is Epoetin Alfa used?

Epoetin Alfa is a medication used to treat anemia in people with:

  • Chronic kidney failure
  • Solid tumors being treated with chemotherapy
  • Multiple myeloma or malignant lymphoma
  • Major orthopedic surgery (knee or hip replacement)

This is in the class of medication called erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ASAs). This is the same as erythropoietin which is a natural substance in your body that stops anemia. Epoetin Alfa signals the bone marrow to make more red blood cells.

How does Epoetin Alfa work?

Epoetin Alfa is a synthetic version of the naturally occurring hormone erythropoietin which is produced by healthy kidneys. In treating anemia, this stimulates the bone marrow to create red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body. Therefore, this medication corrects anemia.

In people with solid tumors being treated with chemotherapy, Epoetin Alfa in some situations is given to stimulate the bone marrow to produce more red blood cells. One of the major side effects of chemotherapy is that it lessens the production of blood cells. When the level of red blood cells falls too low, this is the most commonly treated with a blood transfusion.

How is Epoetin Alfa used?

The dosage will depend on your medical condition, age, weight, and response to the treatment. Your doctor may direct you to start at a low dose and gradually increase it. Follow the instructions of your doctor very carefully. You should not take the medication more or less than it is prescribed.

Epoetin Alfa is given by injection under the skin or into a vein. It is usually given 1 to 3 times a week or as directed by your doctor. It may take 2-6 weeks before your red blood cell count increases. Let your doctor know if your condition does not improve or if it gets worse.

What are the possible side effects of Epoetin Alfa?

Common side effects:

  • Headache
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Cold symptoms (sneezing, stuffy nose, or sore throat)
  • Injection site reactions (tenderness, pain, or irritation)

What are the precautions in using Epoetin Alfa?

  • While taking Epoetin Alfa, tell your doctor if you have experience sudden stabbing migraine-like headaches, as this may be a possible warning sign that your blood pressure is too high.
  • If you ever had an allergic reaction to this product, tell your doctor.
  • If you are receiving dialysis treatment, your dialysis medication may need adjusting while having Epoetin Alfa. Your doctor will decide this.
  • Do not use this prescription to treat other illnesses without the consent of a doctor.

This product should not be used in:

  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • People who have experienced a sudden drop in red blood cell production during previous treatment with this medicine
  • People with cancer who are not being treated with chemotherapy
  • Those who can’t  be treated with medicines to prevent blood clots

This should be used with caution in:

  • People with heart disease
  • High blood pressure or hypertension
  • Chronic liver failure
  • Epilepsy
  • Hereditary blood disorders called porphyrias
  • People with high numbers of platelets in the blood
  • People at increased risk of developing a  blood clot in a blood vessel