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Drugs. 2004;64(3):323-46.

Epoetin Beta: a review of its clinical use in the treatment of anaemia in patients with cancer.

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  • 1Adis International Limited, Mairangi Bay, Auckland, New Zealand.


Epoetin beta (NeoRecormon) is a recombinant form of erythropoietin. It increases reticulocyte counts, haemoglobin (Hb) levels and haematocrit. Epoetin beta administered subcutaneously once weekly corrected anaemia and had equivalent efficacy to that of epoetin beta administered three times weekly in patients with haematological malignancies. Subcutaneous epoetin beta reduced transfusion requirements and increased Hb levels versus no treatment in patients with solid tumours and chemotherapy-induced anaemia in nonblind, randomised trials. Anaemia and quality of life were also improved, and blood transfusion requirements were reduced to a significantly greater extent than placebo or no treatment (with supportive blood transfusion) in patients with haematological malignancies. Most patients were receiving chemotherapy. Subcutaneous epoetin beta was well tolerated by patients with cancer; adverse events with the drug occurred with a similar incidence to those with placebo or no treatment (with supportive blood transfusion). Hypertension was relatively uncommon with epoetin beta in clinical trials. Patients with haematological malignancies and a baseline platelet count > or =100 x 10(9)/L, Hb levels of > or =9 g/dL or lower erythropoietin levels have demonstrated better responses to epoetin beta than other patients in clinical trials. However, neither baseline erythropoietin level nor the observed to predicted ratio of erythropoietin levels correlated with the response to epoetin beta in patients with solid tumours and chemotherapy-induced anaemia. A decrease of <1 g/dL or an increase in Hb with epoetin beta during the first chemotherapy cycle indicated a low transfusion need in subsequent cycles in patients with ovarian carcinoma. In general, the efficacy of epoetin beta is not limited by tumour type. Response to the drug occurred irrespective of the nature (platinum- or nonplatinum-based) or presence of chemotherapy treatment in randomised trials.


Epoetin beta has shown efficacy in the management of cancer-related anaemia in patients with haematological malignancies and of chemotherapy-induced anaemia in patients with solid tumours. Once-weekly administration provides added convenience for patients and may be cost saving, although additional research into the potential pharmacoeconomic benefits of this regimen are required. The drug is well tolerated in patients with cancer and is associated with little injection-site pain when administered subcutaneously. Epoetin beta is an important option in the prevention of chemotherapy-induced anaemia, and a valid and valuable alternative to blood transfusion therapy for the treatment of cancer-related or chemotherapy-induced anaemia.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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