November 11, 2009
Erythropoiesis-Stimulating Agents Associated With Higher Risk Of Venous Thromboembolism
Use of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents is associated with an increased risk of venous thromboembolism, according to study published online November 10 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (i.e., erythropoietin and darbopoietin) stimulate red blood cell production and therefore were approved to reduce the number of blood transfusions required during chemotherapy; however, concerns about the risks of venous thromboembolism (the disease that includes deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism) and mortality exist.
More patients who received an erythropoiesis-stimulating agent than patients who did not developed venous thromboembolism. Overall survival was similar in both groups. The number of patients receiving erythropoiesis-stimulating agents increased approximately 10-fold from 1991 through 2002. The rate of blood transfusion per year during the same time period, however, remained constant at 22%.
"Further efforts at monitoring use and long-term toxicity of expensive oncology drugs should be put in place to ensure that for any drug the benefits outweigh the risks in community practice," the authors write.
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