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New Rules for Powerful Anemia Drugs

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A few years ago drugs such as Procrit for chemotherapy-related anemia were advertised on television. Viewers were given the impression that this drug was safe and effective and would combat fatigue and give them strength. But now studies have raised questions about the safety of drugs like Procrit, Epogen and Aranesp. The FDA wants health professionals to know that these anemia medicines may increase the risk for heart failure, stroke and death. They may also promote the growth of tumors, just about the last thing a cancer patient needs. The FDA will require doctors who wish to prescribe any of these drugs to undergo special training on the risks and benefits starting in March. As part of the program, patients will be given a leaflet outlining the most important side effects.

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Was this information helpful? Average rating: 4.9/5 (14 votes)
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My husband was on this drug for a long time. I do not think this drug is safe.

For the past 5 years, I have used Procrit to treat my anemia due to diabetic nephropathy. Before I received this drug, I would have trouble walking or even thinking clearly. My muscles would cramp for no known reason. And I was tired and dragged at work and home. I have been Type 1 diabetic since 11 years old, and kidney disease progressed over the next 40 years until my kidneys could no longer produce enough epo hormone.

In 2005 my nephrologist started me on Procrit, and shortly after that life improved. I can now work fully engaged, and keeping my job, I can provide income and health coverage for my family. I'm afraid without this drug, or drug similar to it, I would have to stop working, and would probably die from anemia complications. The doctor requires monthly blood tests to check my hemocrit/hemoglobin levels (goal is between 11 and 11.9).

Up until this year, my insurance company would provide 3 month supply (vials) so I could self-inject at home. This drug is expensive, and the copay is very high. Now, they changed my plan... they will only provide one month at a time, so I will have to refill every month.

I wish the drug was less expensive. If it was, and patients used it properly, there wouldn't be so many restrictions by insurance companies, hullaballoo from groups about this life-sustaining drug.

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