Generic Name Brand Name
darbepoetin Aranesp
epoetin Epoetin Alfa (EPO), Epogen, Procrit

Epoetin is a type of erythropoietin stimulator. These medicines can be given two ways. They may be injected into a vein with an intravenous (IV) needle or injected under the skin (subcutaneous). Talk to your doctor about which way is best for you.

How It Works

Epoetin is the man-made form of something that is produced naturally by your body, erythropoietin. The drug helps red blood cells to grow. It is used to prevent or treat anemia.

Why It Is Used

Cancer and treatment for cancer can cause your blood cell counts to drop very low. Epoetin is used to bring your blood cell count up as soon as possible. It is also used to prevent and treat some types of anemia, such as those caused by kidney disease.

How Well It Works

Epoetin helps your body make new red blood cells, which means you may not need as many blood transfusions. Sometimes your doctor may give you iron at the same time as epoetin to help treat anemia.

Side Effects

Epoetin can cause high blood pressure. Drugs are available to treat high blood pressure.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Most people have few problems with epoetin. It can make you feel better and increase your appetite and your energy.

Epoetin is expensive.

Epoetin is an erythropoietin. Darbepoetin is another type of erythropoietin that may be given less frequently.

It may be dangerous to use erythropoietin stimulators to increase your red blood cell (hemoglobin) levels above 12 g/dL. Hemoglobin levels that are too high may increase your risk for death, heart failure, heart attack, and stroke. Talk with your doctor about your concerns and keep all your appointments for blood tests.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

Last Updated: November 26, 2008

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