Injections administered for treatment of anemia could carry serious risks, especially when they are used aggressively at higher doses.
Anemia injection side effects have been linked to the use of Aranesp, Epogen and Procrit. Problems include an increased risk of:
- Blood clots
- Heart attacks
- Faster tumor growth
ANEMIA INJECTION RISKS
The anemia therapy is often given to cancer patients and kidney dialysis patients to raise red blood cell counts and avoid the need for a blood transfusion. However, as a result of aggressive marketing and advertisements, which failed to disclose the full extent of problems with the treatment, anemia injections have been widely overused at doses which may problems.
Some of the anemia therapy problems which have been confirmed with recent studies include:
- Increased risk of death, blood clots, strokes and heart attacks in patients with chronic kidney failure when given at high doses.
- Increased rate of tumor growth for patients with head cancer, neck cancer and breast cancer when the anemia injection is given following chemotherapy.
- Increased risk of death at all dose levels for cancer patients who are not receiving chemotherapy at the same time the anemia injection is prescribed. In addition, for these cancer patients, the injection demonstrated no benefits in reducing the need for a blood transfusion.
- Increased risk of blood clots or deep vein thrombosis (DVT) for patients receiving the anemia therapy following orthopedic surgery.
ERYTHROPOIESIS STIMULATING AGENT (ESA) SIDE EFFECTS
The anemia therapy problems apply to Aranesp injections, Epogen injections and Procrit injections. All three medications are in a class of drugs known as erythorpoiesis stimulating agents (ESA), which are approved to treat anemia in individuals with chronic kidney failure and those with cancer where anemia is caused by chemotherapy. Since all ESA injections work the same way, the side effects can be found in all of the anemia therapy drugs in this class.
Symptoms of anemia injection problems could include:
- Pain or swelling in the legs
- Increased shortness of breath
- Higher blood pressure
- Increased fatigue
As of March 2007, Erythropoietins were the fifth leading class of prescription medications sold in the United States. In 2006, nearly one million Americans received one of the anemia drugs and the combined annual sales were approximately $10 billion. Although the drugs have been on the market for several years, the manufacturers failed to adequately warn of the potential anemia therapy side effects. In March 2007, the FDA required that a black box warning be added to the label and lawsuits are being reviewed for individuals who have experienced problems.