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Br J Haematol. 2019 Jan;184(2):134-160. doi: 10.1111/bjh.15707. Epub 2018 Dec 13.

Clinical effectiveness and safety of erythropoietin-stimulating agents for the treatment of low- and intermediate-1-risk myelodysplastic syndrome: a systematic literature review.

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Clinique Universitaire d'Hématologie Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Grenoble Alpes, Grenoble, France.
Stanford University Cancer Center, Stanford, CA, USA.
Amgen Inc., Thousand Oaks, CA, USA.
Parametric Solutions Inc., London, UK.
Service d'Hématologie Clinique, Hôpital St. Louis and Paris 7 University, Paris, France.


Many patients with lower-risk myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) experience anaemia, which has negative consequences. Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) and their biosimilars are used to treat anaemia in MDS and, currently, epoetin alfa and darbepoetin alfa are commonly used and recommended by clinical guidelines. To better understand the evidence available on the use of ESAs for anaemia in lower-risk MDS, we conducted a systematic literature review to identify randomized and nonrandomized prospective studies reporting on clinical efficacy/effectiveness, patient-reported quality of life (QoL), and safety. We extended our review to include retrospective studies for darbepoetin alfa specifically and to ascertain the feasibility of completing an indirect network meta-analysis comparing epoetin and darbepoetin alfa. Overall, 53 articles reporting on 35 studies were included. The studies indicated a clinical benefit of ESAs, with benefits observed across key clinical outcomes. ESAs showed consistent improvement in erythroid response rates (ESA-naïve, 45-73%; previous ESA exposure, 25-75%) and duration of response. Comparative studies demonstrated similar progression to acute myeloid leukaemia and several showed improved overall survival and QoL. Limited safety concerns were identified. This analysis confirmed ESA therapy should be the foremost first-line treatment of anaemia in most patients with lower-risk MDS who lack the 5q deletion.


anaemia; darbepoetin alfa; erythropoiesis-stimulating agent; myelodysplastic syndromes; systematic review

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