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epoetin alfa (cont.)

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before using epoetin alfa (Epogen, Procrit)?

You should not use this medication if you are allergic to epoetin alfa or darbepoetin alfa or (Aranesp), or if you have:

  • untreated or uncontrolled high blood pressure; or
  • if you have ever had pure red cell aplasia (PRCA, a type of anemia) caused by using darbepoetin alfa or epoetin alfa.

To make sure you can safely use epoetin alfa, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:

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.

FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether epoetin alfa will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication.

It is not known whether epoetin alfa passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

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 to use birth control while you are using epoetin alfa.

Epoetin alfa may shorten remission time in some people with head and neck cancer who are also being treated with radiation. Epoetin alfa may also shorten survival time in certain people with breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, head and neck cancer, cervical cancer, or lymphoid cancer. Talk with your doctor about your individual risk.

How should I use epoetin alfa (Epogen, Procrit)?

Use exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not use in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label.

Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results.

Epoetin alfa is injected under the skin or into a vein through an IV. You may be shown how to use an IV at home.

Do not self-inject this medicine if you do not fully understand how to give the injection and properly dispose of used needles, IV tubing, and other items used to inject the medicine.

This medication comes with patient instructions for safe and effective use. Follow these directions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.

Do not shake the medication bottle or you may ruin the medicine. Prepare your dose in a syringe only when you are ready to give yourself an injection. Do not use the medication if it has changed colors or has particles in it. Call your doctor for a new prescription.

Use a disposable needle only once. Throw away used needles in a puncture-proof container (ask your pharmacist where you can get one and how to dispose of it). Keep this container out of the reach of children and pets.

To be sure this medication is helping your body produce red blood cells, your blood will need to be tested often. You may also need to check your blood pressure during treatment. Do not miss any scheduled appointments.

If you need surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are using epoetin alfa.

Store in the refrigerator and protect from light. Do not freeze epoetin alfa, and throw away the medication if it has become frozen.

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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