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Epoetin-induced pure red-cell aplasia (PRCA): preliminary results from the research on adverse drug events and reports (RADAR) group.

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Divison of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.


In 2002, investigators from France reported 13 patients in whom pure red cell aplasia developed during treatment with recombinant human erythropoietin (epoetin). We reviewed 208 cases of this syndrome reported worldwide. Adverse event reports describing suspected and confirmed cases of epoetin-associated PRCA in websites maintained by the manufacturers and distributors of epoetin products and other publicly available sources were reviewed. Cases were reported from countries in Europe, North America, Asia, Australia and the United States (US). For >95% of the cases, EPREX had been administered subcutaneous to persons with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and anemia for a mean of nine months prior to diagnosis of PRCA. For 80% of persons with the syndrome, reversal of antibody production and recovery of reticulocytes occurred with discontinuation of epoetin and treatment with immunosuppressive agents. Patients with anemia of CKD who developed neutralizing anti-erythropoietin antibodies and pure red cell aplasia during treatment with epoetin have been identified in a number of countries. In non-US countries, switching renal dialysis patients from subcutaneous to intravenous administration of epoetin alpha and improved handling of the drug appear to have been successful strategies for reducing the occurrence of this toxicity. The decrease in cases occurred coincident with these varied changes, although it is difficult to prove causality. PRCA is a rare, but important side effect of epoetin therapy.

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