November 2, 2009

Increased Chance Of Stroke With Anemia Medications?

New research has increased concerns over the use of anemia medicines, since the discovery that the drug Aranesp and others have doubled the chance of stroke in diabetes patients and those with continual kidney problems.

These popular medications have sold well to the public because they reduce the need for blood transfusions.

In the last two years, the Food and Drug Administration has reinforced their warnings over Aranesp, Epogen and Procrit bottles as concerns have arisen that they may damage survival chances in cancer patients.

The research tested Aranesp in 4,038 people with Type 2 diabetes, kidney issues and anemia. The objective was to determine if the drug could stop heart attacks, heart failure, strokes or dialysis.

It not only did not accomplish that, but "we uncovered a risk that I think is substantial for stroke," said study leader Dr. Marc Pfeffer to the Associated Press.

Strokes arose in 101 patients who took Aranesp and 53 patients who were given placebos. The chance of having a stroke was 1% per year in the placebo group and 2% in those taking Aranesp.

For some, "this risk will outweigh its potential benefits," the study's authors wrote.

Dr. Roger Perlmutter, Amgen's head of research and development, said the increased chance of stroke "surprised us." The risk of stroke has been on Aranesp's label since 2001, but "we will definitely update the label," he said.

Aranesp did decrease the need for transfusions. Still, there was a reticent development in how exhausted people felt in the Aranesp group.

On Friday, the New York Attorney General's office announced that they and 15 other states were suing Amgen, insisting that the company gave bribes to medical providers to increase Aranesp sales, and that the company suggested that they bill third parties.

A statement released by the company wrote that the allegations were "without merit."


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