Beware of Anemia drugs

November 16, 2009

Recently, some controversy has arose around Anemia drugs that are currently prescribed to individuals receiving chemotherapy. New research has shown that these drugs can lead to increased chances of venous thromboembolism, potentially fatal blood clots.

These drugs, called erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs), are commonly prescribed to fight anemia associated with chemotherapy and chronic kidney disease. Unfortunately, recent studies have linked them with increased risk of death, stroke and new cancers. As you may know already, chemotherapy is commonly used to eliminate cancer so the news that these ESA’s may be counteracting the benefits of chemo is ground breaking.

The lead researcher Dr. Dawn Hershman, co-director of the breast program at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center in New York City stated that, “these drugs hit the market in the mid-1990s, and by 2002, 50 percent of patients on chemotherapy were receiving them.”

Studies showed that 14.3 percent of patients receiving ESAs developed thromboembolism, also known as, deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism, compared with 9.8 percent of those who did not receive an ESA.

The researches are not calling for a recall of the drug but Dr. Hershman has release this statement. “If you are going to be treated with these drugs, do so with caution, do so with understanding, have a discussion with your physician about the need for these drugs and what the potential difficulties may be.”

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