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Darbepoetin Alfa

Darbepoetin Alfa


Darbepoetin alfa injection causes the bone marrow to produce red blood cells. If the body does not produce enough red blood cells, severe anemia can occur. This often occurs in people with chronic kidney failure whose kidneys are not working properly. Darbepoetin may be used for patients on kidney dialysis or for those not on dialysis. Anemia can also occur in people who are receiving chemotherapy to treat cancer. Darbepoetin alfa is used to treat severe anemia in these patients.

Why is this medication prescribed?

Darbepoetin alfa injection is used to treat anemia (a lower than normal number of red blood cells) in people with chronic kidney failure (condition in which the kidneys slowly and permanently stop working over a period of time). Darbepoetin alfa injection is also used to treat anemia caused by chemotherapy in people with certain types of cancer. Darbepoetin alfa cannot be used in place of a red blood cell transfusion to treat severe anemia and has not been shown to improve tiredness or poor well-being that may be caused by anemia. Darbepoetin alfa is in a class of medications called erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs). It works by causing the bone marrow (soft tissue inside the bones where blood is made) to make more red blood cells.

How Darbepoetin Alfa is Given

This medication may be given by subcutaneous (layer of tissue between the skin and the muscle) injection into the arm, abdomen or thigh.

This medication may also be given by infusion into a vein (intravenously, IV).

The amount of darbepoetin alfa that you will receive depends on many factors, including your height and weight, your general health or other health problems, and the type of cancer or condition being treated. Your doctor will determine your dose and schedule.

Side effects of Darbepoetin Alfa

Important things to remember about the side effects of darbepoetin alfa:

Most people do not experience all of the side effects listed.

Darbepoetin Alfa side effects are often predictable in terms of their onset and duration.

Darbepoetin Alfa side effects are almost always reversible and will go away after treatment is complete.

There are many options to help minimize or prevent side effects.

There is no relationship between the presence or severity of side effects and the effectiveness of the medication.

Side effects of darbepoetin alfa may also be attributed to the cancer and/or chemotherapy treatment.


Before starting darbepoetin alfa treatment, make sure you tell your doctor about any other medications you are taking (including prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins, herbal remedies, etc.).

Darbopoetin alfa should be used with caution in people with high blood pressure. The manufacturer suggests that darbepoetin alfa should not be used in people with uncontrolled high blood pressure.

Use with caution in patients with history of seizures as darbepoetin alfa increases their risk of having a seizure.

Inform your health care professional if you are pregnant or may be pregnant prior to starting this treatment. Pregnancy category C (use in pregnancy only when benefit to the mother outweighs risk to the fetus).

Prior to treatment, correct or exclude deficiencies of iron, vitamin B12, and/or folate, as well as other factors that may impair erythropoiesis (inflammatory conditions, infections, bleeding).

Discuss with your doctor when you may safely become pregnant or conceive a child after therapy.

It is not known whether darbepoetin alfa is excreted in human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk, caution should be exercised when darbepoetin alfa is given to a nursing woman.