Researchers Report Advantages of Switching Anemia Treatments

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ORLANDO, Fla.—Anemic pre-dialysis CKD patients who were switched from darbepoetin alfa to epoetin alfa (EPO) maintained similar hemoglobin (Hb) levels but at a lower cost, a study found.

Claudia E. Hura, MD, of the San Antonio Kidney Disease Center in San Antonio, Tex., and colleagues studied 85 anemia CKD patients who had two or more administrations of both medications, two or more Hb measurements during both darbepoetin alfa and EPO, and at least 180 days of treatment on either side of the switch date. The patients had a mean age of 71 years.

The mean dosing interval while the patients were on darbepoetin alfa and EPO was 34.5 and 33.7 days, respectively. The observed Hb values were 11.58 g/dL and 11.52 g/dL, respectively. Neither of these between-group differences was significant. The mean weekly dose of medication was 44.08 mcg for darbepoetin alfa and 10,218.24 units for EPO, for a dose-only ratio of 232:1.

Mean weekly wholesale acquisition costs were $216.76 for darbepoetin alfa compared with $132.67 for EPO.

Researchers reported study findings here at the National Kidney Foundation's 2010 Spring Clinical Meetings.

Regarding study limitations, the investigators noted that treatment outcomes were not evaluated in a randomized, controlled setting. Furthermore, the study looked at a small patient population in one outpatient clinic, which may limit the generalizability of results to other populations.
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