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Epogen is a medicine that is licensed to treat anemia due to various causes, including chronic kidney failure, chemotherapy, and zidovudine (an HIV medication). People with anemia can also take the drug before surgery to decrease the need for blood transfusions. Epogen can either be injected under the skin or given by IV. Possible side effects include fever, fatigue, and vomiting.
Epogen® (epoetin alfa) is a prescription medication approved for the following uses:
- Preventing the need for blood transfusions in people with anemia who are undergoing surgery
- Treating anemia caused by zidovudine (Retrovir®, Combivir®, Trizivir®), an HIV medication
- Treating anemia due to chronic kidney failure (renal failure)
- Treating anemia caused by chemotherapy in people with cancer.
Epogen is made by Amgen, Inc.
The medication is a manufactured version of erythropoietin, a human protein that is produced in the kidneys. It works by stimulating the production of red blood cells by the bone marrow. Epogen belongs to a group of medications known as erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs).
Several studies have evaluated the safety and efficacy of Epogen for the treatment of anemia due to a variety of conditions. These studies evaluated the efficacy of the medications by measuring hematocrit, which is a blood test that measures how much of the blood consists of red blood cells, and is a good measure of anemia. These studies showed that Epogen can increase hematocrit, indicating that it is an effective treatment for anemia. In many situations, the drug was also shown to decrease the need for blood transfusions.