Epogen

Generic Name: Epoetin Alfa

  • What is Epogen?

    Epogen is a manmade form of the protein human erythropoietin that works by stimulating the bone marrow to make more red blood cells, which raises your hemoglobin levels. It is used to treat anemia caused by chronic kidney failure, chemotherapy, or by the use of zidovudine. It may also be given prior to certain types of operations where there in an increased chance of blood loss and/or need for blood transfusions.

  • What is the most important information I should know about Epogen?

    Using Epogen can lead to death or other serious side effects, including cardiovascular events, stroke, and an increased risk of tumor progression or recurrence.

    If you have cancer and take Epogen, you must sign the ESA APPRISE Oncology Patient and Healthcare Professional Acknowledgement Form, which states that you are aware of the risks associated with use of Epogen. These risks include the possibility that your tumor may grow faster and you may die sooner when Epogen is used experimentally in an effort to raise your hemoglobin.

    Epogen may increase the growth of cancerous cells, and cancer patients receiving the drug should be put on the lowest possible dose to prevent the need for blood transfusions.

    Epogen does not improve symptoms of anemia, quality of life, fatigue, or patient well-being for patients with cancer or with HIV.

    Since Epogen can increase the chance of blood clot formation, blood thinners may be necessary if you are scheduled for surgery. Call your healthcare provider if any symptoms of blood clots occur, such as chest pain, trouble breathing, pain in your legs, or sudden confusion.

  • Who should not take Epogen?

    Do not use Epogen if you are allergic to any of its ingredients.

    Do not use if you have uncontrolled high blood pressure or have been told by your doctor that you have a type of anemia called pure red cell aplasia.

  • What should I tell my doctor before I take the first dose of Epogen?

    Tell your doctor about all your health conditions and all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, supplements, and herbal medications. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have heart disease, high blood pressure, any history of seizures or strokes, or other blood disorders such as sickle cell anemia and blood clotting disorders. Talk to your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

  • What is the usual dosage?

    The information below is based on the dosage guidelines your doctor uses. Depending on your condition and medical history, your doctor may prescribe a different regimen. Do not change the dosage or stop taking your medication without your doctor's approval.

    Chronic Renal Failure

    Adults: The recommended range for the starting dose is 50-100 Units per 2.2 pounds of body weight three times a week.

    Children: The recommended starting dose is 50 Units per 2.2 pounds of body weight three times a week.

    The dose should be reduced as your hemoglobin approaches 12 grams (g) per deciliter (dL) or increases by >1 g/dL in any 2-week period.

    If you are on hemodialysis, you will likely receive Epogen through a vein.

    Cancer Patients on Chemotherapy

    Adults: The initial recommended dose is 150 Units per 2.2 pounds of body weight subcutaneously three times a week or 40,000 Units subcutaneously weekly.

    Children: The initial recommended dose is 600 Units per 2.2 pounds of body weight weekly administered intravenously.

    Surgery Patients

    Adults: Your doctor will establish the correct dosage based on your hemoglobin levels and condition.

    You should also receive iron supplements as directed by your doctor, starting no later than the beginning of treatment and continuing throughout the course of therapy.

    Zidovudine-Treated HIV-Infected Patients

    Adults: For patients with serum erythropoietin levels ≤500 Units/mL who are receiving a dose of zidovudine ≤4,200 milligrams (mg) per week, the recommended starting dose is 100 Units per 2.2 pounds of body weight through a vein or as an injection under the skin (subcutaneously) three times a week for 8 weeks.

  • How should I take Epogen?

    Continue to follow your healthcare provider's instructions for diet, dialysis, and medicines, including medicines for high blood pressure.

    Your doctor will instruct you in the proper way to administer Epogen. You can also refer to the detailed instructions that accompanied your prescription.

  • What should I avoid while taking Epogen?

    Avoid freezing Epogen; it should remain refrigerated.

  • What are possible food and drug interactions associated with Epogen?

    No significant interactions have been reported with Epogen at this time. However, always tell your doctor about any medicines you take, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

  • What are the possible side effects of Epogen?

    Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking this drug.

    Side effects may include: increased blood pressure, seizures, vomiting, headache, rash, swelling in your legs and arms, shortness of breath, diarrhea, nausea, chest pain, injection-site reactions

  • Can I receive Epogen if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

    Epogen has not been studied in pregnant women and its effects on developing babies are not known. It is also not known if Epogen can pass into human breast milk. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

  • What should I do if I miss a dose of Epogen?

    If you forget to take a dose, call your healthcare provider right away and ask what to do.

  • How should I store Epogen?

    This medication should be stored in the refrigerator, but never in the freezer. Do not leave the vial in direct sunlight.

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I'm Kristen Dore, PharmD. Welcome to PDR Health!

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