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  • FDA Date: 06/24/2011

    Erythropoiesis-Stimulating Agents FDA Drug Safety Communication

    Modified Dosing Recommendations to Improve the Safe Use of Erythropoiesis-Stimulating Agents (ESAs) in Chronic Kidney Disease

    This information reflects FDA's current analysis of data available to FDA concerning this drug. FDA intends to update this sheet when additional information or analyses become available.

    FDA is informing healthcare professionals of modified recommendations for more conservative dosing of ESAs in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) to improve the safe use of these drugs. FDA has made these recommendations because of data showing increased risks of cardiovascular events with ESAs in this patient population. The manufacturer has revised the Boxed Warning, Warnings and Precautions, and Dosage and Administration sections of the labels for the ESAs to include this new information.

    The ESA labels now warn:

    In controlled trials with CKD patients, patients experienced greater risks for death, serious adverse cardiovascular reactions, and stroke when administered ESAs to target a hemoglobin level of greater than 11 g/dL. No trial has identified a hemoglobin target level, ESA dose, or dosing strategy that does not increase these risks.

    ESA labels now recommend:

    For patients with CKD, consider starting ESA treatment when the hemoglobin level is less than 10 g/dL. This advice does not define how far below 10 g/dL is appropriate for an individual to initiate. This advice also does not recommend that the goal is to achieve a hemoglobin of 10 g/dL or a hemoglobin above 10 g/dL. Individualize dosing and use the lowest dose of ESA sufficient to reduce the need for red blood cell transfusions. Adjust dosing as appropriate

    Healthcare professionals should weigh the possible benefits of using ESAs to decrease the need for red blood cell transfusions in CKD patients against the increased risks for serious cardiovascular events, and should inform their patients of the current understanding of potential risks and benefits. Therapy should be individualized to the patient and the lowest possible ESA dose given to reduce the need for transfusions.

    FDA is continuing to evaluate the safety of ESAs and is requiring the manufacturer to conduct additional trials. FDA will update the public when more information is available.

    View the full FDA Drug Safety Communication on FDA.gov