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Medications and Drugs

Brand Names: Epogen, Procrit

Generic Name: epoetin alfa (Pronunciation: e POE e tin AL fa)

What is epoetin alfa (Epogen, Procrit)?

Epoetin alfa is a man-made form of a protein that helps your body produce red blood cells. The amount of this protein in your body may be reduced when you have kidney failure or use certain medications. When fewer red blood cells are produced, you can develop a condition called anemia.

Epoetin alfa is used to treat anemia (a lack of red blood cells in the body).

Epoetin alfa may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What are the possible side effects of epoetin alfa (Epogen, Procrit)?

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Contact your doctor if you feel weak, lightheaded, or short of breath, or if your skin looks pale. These may be signs that your body has stopped responding to this medication.

Epoetin alfa can increase your risk of life-threatening heart or circulation problems, including heart attack or stroke. This risk will increase the longer you use epoetin alfa. Seek emergency medical help if you have symptoms of heart or circulation problems, such as:

  • chest pain or heavy feeling, pain spreading to the arm or shoulder, nausea, sweating, general ill feeling;
  • feeling short of breath, even with mild exertion;
  • swelling, rapid weight gain;
  • sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body;
  • sudden severe headache, confusion, problems with vision, speech, or balance; or
  • pain, swelling, warmth, or redness in one or both legs.

Stop using epoetin alfa and call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • feeling light-headed, fainting;
  • fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms, sores in your mouth and throat;
  • pale skin, feeling short of breath, rapid heart rate, trouble concentrating;
  • easy bruising, unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, vagina, or rectum), purple or red pinpoint spots under your skin;
  • seizure (black-out or convulsions);
  • low potassium (confusion, uneven heart rate, extreme thirst, increased urination, leg discomfort, muscle weakness or limp feeling); or
  • dangerously high blood pressure (severe headache, blurred vision, buzzing in your ears, anxiety, confusion, chest pain, shortness of breath, uneven heartbeats, seizure).

Less serious side effects may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What is the most important information I should know about epoetin alfa (Epogen, Procrit)?

You should not use this medication if you have untreated or uncontrolled high blood pressure, if you are allergic to epoetin alfa or darbepoetin alfa (Aranesp), or if you have ever had pure red cell aplasia (PRCA, a type of anemia) caused by using either of these two drugs.

Before using epoetin alfa, tell your doctor if you have epilepsy or a history of seizures. Epoetin alfa may cause seizures. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert.

This medicine can increase your risk of life-threatening heart or circulation problems, including heart attack or stroke. This risk will increase the longer you use epoetin alfa. Epoetin alfa may also shorten remission time or survival time in some people with certain types of cancer. Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of using epoetin alfa.

Seek emergency medical help if you have symptoms of heart or circulation problems, such as chest pain or heavy feeling, pain spreading to the arm or shoulder, shortness of breath, slurred speech, or problems with vision or balance.

To be sure this medication is helping your condition, your blood may need to be tested often. Your blood pressure will also need to be checked. Visit your doctor regularly.

Contact your doctor if you feel weak, light-headed, or short of breath, or if your skin looks pale. These may be signs that your body has stopped responding to epoetin alfa.

Some women using epoetin alfa have started having menstrual periods, even after not having a period for a long time due to a medical condition. You may be able to get pregnant if your periods restart. Talk with your doctor about the need for birth control.

Epoetin alfa is made from human plasma (part of the blood) which may contain viruses and other infectious agents. Donated plasma is tested and treated to reduce the risk of it containing infectious agents, but there is still a small possibility it could transmit disease. Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of using this medication.



Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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