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Am J Kidney Dis. 1989 Aug;14(2 Suppl 1):2-8.

Guidelines for recombinant human erythropoietin therapy.

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Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle 98195.


Extensive testing has proven that recombinant human erythropoietin (r-HuEPO; EPOGEN [epoetin alfa], AMGEN Inc, Thousand Oaks, CA) corrects the anemia of end-stage renal disease and eliminates the need for transfusions in virtually all patients. Patients whose hematocrit levels are less than 0.30 or who are transfusion dependent are candidates for therapy. A dosage of 50 to 150 U/kg body weight intravenously three times a week produces an increase in hematocrit by approximately 0.01 to 0.02 per week. Once the hematocrit reaches 0.30 the dose is adjusted so that a target hematocrit of 0.32 to 0.38 is maintained. Eighty percent of patients need maintenance doses of r-HuEPO of less than or equal to 150 U/kg; the other 20% of patients require larger doses. Reasons for poor responses include iron deficiency, inflammation due to surgery or infection, and osteitis fibrosa. Most patients require iron supplementation to prevent functional iron deficiency. BP increased in one third of patients, and in 3% seizures occurred during the initial phase of therapy, often associated with a sudden increase in BP. This hypertension can be controlled with medication. Increased dialyzer clotting may occur, which is prevented when heparin doses are adjusted, and dialyzer solute clearances may decrease slightly. Treatment with r-HuEPO does not elicit an antibody response. The mechanism of action of r-HuEPO is identical to that of natural erythropoietin, and therefore is an appropriate therapy for the long-term management of anemia in chronic renal failure.

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