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Kidney Int. 2002 Dec;62(6):2167-75.

Randomized trial of darbepoetin alfa for treatment of renal anemia at a reduced dose frequency compared with rHuEPO in dialysis patients.

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Department of Nephrology, University Hospital Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.



Darbepoetin alfa is a glycoprotein with a three-fold longer terminal half-life than recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEPO). We aimed to determine whether darbepoetin alfa is as effective and well tolerated as rHuEPO for treating renal anemia in dialysis patients when administered at a reduced dose frequency.


A total of 522 European and Australian hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis patients receiving stable rHuEPO therapy by either the intravenous (IV) or subcutaneous (SC) route were randomized, open-label in a 1:2 ratio to continue rHuEPO or to receive an equivalent dose of darbepoetin alfa at a reduced dose frequency. Patients receiving rHuEPO once weekly changed to once every other week darbepoetin alfa, and those receiving rHuEPO two or three times weekly changed to once-weekly darbepoetin alfa. The doses of rHuEPO and darbepoetin alfa were titrated to maintain hemoglobin close to the patient's baseline level for up to 52 weeks. The primary endpoint was the change in hemoglobin between baseline and the evaluation period at weeks 25 to 32 of treatment.


The mean change in hemoglobin from baseline to the evaluation period was similar in the darbepoetin alfa (-0.03 g/dL; SE 0.11) and rHuEPO (-0.06 g/dL; SE 0.13) groups, and the difference between the two treatments was 0.03 g/dL (95% CI -0.16, 0.21). This was not a statistically significant or clinically relevant difference, despite the reduced frequency of darbepoetin alfa administration. At the end of the evaluation period, >/=95% of patients had their hemoglobin successfully maintained on their assigned dose frequency for darbepoetin alfa (once weekly and once every other week) and rHuEPO (once, twice and three times weekly). The safety profiles of darbepoetin alfa and rHuEPO were similar, and no antibodies to either treatment were detected.


Darbepoetin alfa maintains hemoglobin as effectively as rHuEPO, but with a reduced dose frequency.

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