Procrit

Generic Name: Epoetin Alfa

  • What is Procrit?

    Procrit is a man-made form of the protein human erythropoietin used to lessen the need for red blood cell transfusions. Procrit stimulates your bone marrow to make more red blood cells, which raises your hemoglobin level.

    Procrit is used to treat anemia (a lower than normal number of red blood cells) caused by chronic kidney failure (you may or may not be on dialysis), by chemotherapy used for at least two months to treat some types of cancer, or by a medicine called zidovudine (AZT) used to treat HIV infection.

    Procrit may also be used if you are scheduled for certain surgeries with a potential for a lot of blood loss to reduce the chance you will need red blood cell transfusions.

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

    If your hemoglobin level stays too high or if your hemoglobin goes up too quickly, this may lead to serious health problems, which may result in death. These serious health problems may happen even if you take Procrit and do not have an increase in your hemoglobin level.

    Procrit should not be used for treatment of anemia in place of emergency treatment (e.g., red blood cell transfusions), if you have cancer and you are not receiving chemotherapy that may cause anemia, or if your cancer has a high chance of being cured.

    Procrit should not be used if you are scheduled for certain surgeries and you are able and willing to donate blood prior to surgery.

    Using Procrit can lead to death or other serious side effects. You may experience serious heart problems such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and may die sooner if you are treated with Procrit to a hemoglobin level above 12 grams per deciliter (g/dL).

    You may get blood clots at any time while taking Procrit. If you are receiving Procrit and you are going to have surgery, talk to your doctor.

    Call your healthcare provider or get medical help right away if you have any symptoms of blood clots, such as chest pain, trouble breathing or shortness of breath, pain in your legs, with or without swelling, cool or pale arm or leg, sudden confusion, trouble speaking, trouble understanding others' speech, sudden numbness or weakness in your face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of your body, sudden trouble seeing, sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, loss of consciousness (fainting), or if your hemodialysis vascular access stops working.

    Your healthcare provider has received special training through the ESA APPRISE Oncology Program in order to prescribe Procrit for you if you have cancer. Before you can begin to receive Procrit, you must sign the ESA APPRISE Oncology Patient and Healthcare Professional Acknowledgement Form to document that your healthcare provider discussed the risks of Procrit with you. When you sign this form, you are stating that you are aware of the risks associated with use of Procrit.

    Discuss with your doctor why Procrit treatment is being prescribed, your chances of needing red blood cell transfusions if you do not take Procrit, your chances of needing red blood cell transfusions even if you take Procrit, and how taking Procrit may affect the success of your cancer treatment.

    After you have finished your chemotherapy course, Procrit treatment should be stopped.

    It is important that your blood pressure be monitored often and to report any changes outside of the guidelines that your doctor has given you, especially if you have heart disease. Certain laboratory tests, such as hemoglobin, hematocrit, or iron level measurements, may also need to be done more often and be reported to your doctor or dialysis center. It is important to keep all follow-up visits with your doctor.

    If you have high blood pressure with chronic kidney failure, your blood pressure may go up or be difficult to control with blood pressure medicine while taking Procrit. This can happen even if you have never had high blood pressure before.

    If you have any seizures while taking Procrit, get medical help right away and tell your doctor.

    Your body may make antibodies to Procrit. These antibodies can block or lessen your body's ability to make red blood cells and cause you to have severe anemia. Call your doctor if you have unusual tiredness, lack of energy, dizziness, or fainting.

    Serious allergic reactions can cause a rash, shortness of breath, wheezing, dizziness and fainting, swelling around your mouth or eyes, fast pulse, or sweating. Call your doctor or get medical help right away.

    Do not give Procrit from multidose vials to premature babies because it can cause death and brain damage.

  • Who should not take Procrit?

    Do not take Procrit if you have cancer and have not been counseled by your healthcare provider regarding the risks of Procrit and signed the ESA APPRISE Oncology Program Patient and Healthcare Professional Acknowledgement Form before you begin to receive Procrit, have high blood pressure that is not controlled, have been told by your healthcare provider that you have or have ever had a type of anemia called pure red cell aplasia (PRCA) that starts after treatment with Procrit or other erythropoietin medicines, or if you have allergies to any of the ingredients in Procrit.

    Procrit should not be used for treatment of anemia if you have cancer and you are not receiving chemotherapy that may cause anemia or if your cancer has a high chance of being cured.

    If you have cancer, do not take Procrit if you have finished your course of chemotherapy.

    Do not give Procrit from multidose vials to premature babies.

    Do not take Procrit if are allergic to mammalian cell-derived products or albumin (human).

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

    Tell your doctor about all prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medications you are taking before beginning treatment with Procrit. Also, talk to your doctor about your complete medical history, especially if you have or had high blood pressure, heart disease, any history of seizures (convulsions) or strokes, blood disorders such as sickle cell anemia, pure red cell aplasia, clotting disorders (e.g., deep vein thrombosis), cancer, low iron levels, low serum ferritin levels, low serum transferrin saturation, surgery or are scheduled for surgery, porphyria, are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed.

  • 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.

    Procrit dosing regimens for adults and children are different for each use of this medication. Procrit should be administered under the supervision of a healthcare professional, unless your doctor has determined that you can receive injections of Procrit at home. Your doctor will prescribe the lowest dose of Procrit needed to avoid red blood cell transfusions.

    Anemia in Cancer

    Adults: The recommended starting dose is 150 Units per 2.2 pounds of body weight given as an injection under the skin three times a week or 40,000 Units given as an injection under the skin every week.

    Children 5 to 18 years: The recommended starting dose is 600 Units per 2.2 pounds of body weight given as an injection into the vein every week.

    Your maintenance dose of Procrit will depend on your response and hemoglobin levels, which are targeted within the range of 10 to 12 grams per deciliter (g/dL). Doses should not exceed a target hemoglobin of 12g/dL.

    Anemia in Chronic Kidney Failure

    Adults: The recommended dosing range is 50-100 Units per 2.2 pounds of body weight given as an injection three times a week.

    Children 1 month to 16 years: The recommended dosing range is 50 Units per 2.2 pounds of body weight given as an injection three times a week.

    Procrit is given as an intravenous (IV) injection or under the skin. For people on hemodialysis, the IV injection is recommended.

    Your maintenance dose of Procrit will depend on your response and hemoglobin levels, which are targeted within the range of 10 to 12 grams per deciliter (g/dL). Doses should not exceed a target hemoglobin of 12g/dL.

    The safety and effectiveness of Procrit in children <1 month old have not been established.

    Anemia in People taking Zidovudine (AZT) for HIV Infection

    Before starting Procrit, your doctor may determine the amount of erythropoietin that exists in your body before transfusion. Your doctor will decide whether Procrit will work for you depending on the level of erythropoietin.

    Adults: The recommended starting dose in people taking less than or equal to 4200 milligrams (mg) of zidovudine is 100 Units per 2.2 pounds of body weight as an injection (into the vein or skin) three times a week for 8 weeks.

    Your maintenance dose of Procrit will depend on your dose of zidovudine and infections and episodes of inflammation. Doses should not exceed a target hemoglobin of 12g/dL.

    Surgery

    Your doctor will get your hemoglobin level before prescribing Procrit. The recommended dose of Procrit is 300 Units per 2.2 pounds of body weight per day given as an injection under the skin for 10 days before surgery, on the day of surgery, and for four days after surgery.

    Procrit can also be given as 600 Units per 2.2 pounds of body weight as an injection under the skin for four total weekly doses (21 days, 14 days, and 7 days before surgery plus a fourth dose on the day of surgery).

  • How should I take Procrit?

    If you have cancer, your healthcare provider will ask you to review the Procrit Medication Guide, explain the risks of Procrit and answer all your questions about Procrit, have you sign the ESA APPRISE Oncology Program Patient and Healthcare Professional Acknowledgement Form before you begin to receive Procrit.

    Continue to follow your healthcare provider's instructions for diet, dialysis, and medicines, including medicines for high blood pressure, while taking Procrit. Have your blood pressure checked as instructed by your healthcare provider.

    If you or your caregiver has been trained to give Procrit shots (injections) at home, be sure that you read, understand, and follow the "Patient Instructions for Use" that come with Procrit. Take Procrit exactly as your healthcare provider tells you to. Do not change the dose of Procrit unless told to do so by your healthcare provider.

    Your healthcare provider will show you how much Procrit to use, how to inject it, how often it should be injected, and how to safely throw away the used vial, syringes, and needles. If you miss a dose of Procrit, call your healthcare provider right away and ask what to do. If you take more than the prescribed amount of Procrit, call your healthcare provider right away.

    Avoid reusing any needles, syringes, or drug product. Follow your doctor's instructions for proper disposal of used Procrit products. A puncture-resistant container for the disposal of used syringes, and needles should be available.

  • What should I avoid while taking Procrit?

    Avoid missing follow-up appointments with your doctor.

    Avoid becoming pregnant or breastfeeding. Talk to your healthcare provider about possible pregnancy and birth control choices that are right for you.

    Do not shake or expose Procrit to light. Do not freeze Procrit. Keep Procrit in carton until it is time for use. Do not use Procrit if the liquid appears discolored or cloudy or if the liquid appears to contain lumps, flakes, or particles. Throw away multidose vials of Procrit after 21 days from the first day that you put a needle into the vial.

    Avoid reusing any needles, syringes, or drug product. Throw away single use vials even if there is medicine left in the vial. Follow your doctor's instructions for proper disposal of used Procrit products. A puncture-resistant container for the disposal of used syringes, and needles should be available.

    Avoid activities requiring coordination until you know how this drug affects you, as Procrit may cause dizziness.

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

    No significant interactions have been reported with Procrit 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 Procrit?

    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: brain damage, faster growing tumors, serious heart problems such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure, blood clots (especially in your legs, hemodialysis vascular access, and lungs), chest pain, trouble breathing or shortness of breath, pain in your legs, with or without swelling, cool or pale arm or leg, sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding others' speech, sudden numbness or weakness in your face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of your body, sudden trouble seeing or walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, loss of consciousness (fainting), hemodialysis vascular access stops working, increased blood pressure, seizures, antibodies to Procrit that can block or lessen your body's ability to make red blood cells and cause you to have severe anemia (e.g., unusual tiredness, lack of energy, dizziness, or fainting), serious allergic reactions (e.g., rash over your whole body, shortness of breath, wheezing, dizziness and fainting, swelling around your mouth or eyes, fast pulse, or sweating), swelling in people with cancer, rash, injection site pain including irritation and pain, body aches, fever, fatigue, headache, cough, diarrhea, congestion, increased blood pressure, nausea, vomiting

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

    Tell your doctor immediately if you are pregnant, might be pregnant, plan to become pregnant, are breastfeeding, or plan to breastfeed. Talk to your healthcare provider about possible pregnancy and birth control choices that are right for you. It is not known if Procrit may harm your unborn baby or if Procrit passes into breast milk.

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

    If you miss a dose of Procrit, call your healthcare provider right away and ask what to do.

  • How should I store Procrit?

    Store Procrit in the refrigerator. Do not freeze or shake. Do not use Procrit vials that have been frozen or left in direct sunlight. Protect Procrit from light. Throw away multidose vials of Procrit after 21 days from the first day that you put a needle into the vial. Single-use vials of Procrit should be used only one time. Throw the vial away after use even if there is medicine left in the vial.

Meet the Pharmacists

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

Check out my latest blog post on heartburn medication

Procrit Related Drugs

Procrit Related Conditions