Aranesp (darbepoetin alfa) is an injectable drug used to treat low red blood cell counts (anemia) either in people with long-term kidney failure, also known as chronic renal failure, or in people with certain types of cancer (non-myeloid) who are receiving chemotherapy. In clinical trials, Aranesp was shown to effectively increase the number of red blood cells in most patients with kidney disease.
Aranesp is prescribed to treat anemia caused by chemotherapy. Anemia is a common side effect of chemotherapy, which can damage the production of red blood cells.
Aranesp has been approved by the FDA to treat anemia associated with chronic renal failure (renal disease) in people with reduced kidney function, people who are on dialysis, or those receiving certain HIV treatment.
Moderate side effects can include headache, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, cough, or constipation. Serious side effects can include pain, irritation, redness and/or bruising at the injection site, other pain (e.g., muscle, joint, back, stomach, or chest pain), unusual tiredness/weakness, and/or swelling of the arms and legs.
Together with the FDA, Aranesp’s maker, Amgen, has sent a letter to doctors advising them of a revision to the warning label for Aranesp. Two recent studies with other drugs in the same class of Aranesp, known as erythropoietic drugs, have shown that using the drugs at higher-than-recommended doses increases the risk of adverse effects including extreme high blood pressure, blood clots and death.
Aranesp is contraindicated in patients with uncontrolled hypertension and known hypersensitivity to the active substance.
What is darbepoetin alfa?
Darbepoetin 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.
What should I discuss with my doctor before taking Aranesp (darbepoetin alfa)?
Before using Aranesp, tell your doctor if you have:
- heart disease or high blood pressure (hypertension)
- a history of stroke or blood clots
- epilepsy or another seizure disorder
What other drugs will affect Aranesp (darbepoetin alfa)?
It is not known whether Aranesp will interact with other medicines. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors.
Can I file a lawsuit if I have suffered damages from taking Aranesp?
Possibly. While all medications have certain, anticipated side effects, a drug manufacturer has a duty to inform physicians adequately regarding the known risks associated with its drugs. If a manufacturer fails to do so, it can be held responsible to patients who are injured as the result of inadequate warnings, under a legal theory known as “product liability.” Depending upon the particular circumstances of your case, damages may include recovery for any of the following:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Emotional distress
If you or a loved one has experienced any health problems while taking Aranesp, you should contact your doctor immediately. You may also wish to contact an experienced Aranesp lawyer to discuss your legal options. As all legal claims are subject to time limits, however, you may risk forfeiture of your right to financial compensation if you delay.