Warnings on erythropoietin use in cancer patients

The MHRA and CHM have issued new prescribing recommendations for recombinant human erythropoietins (r-HuEPOs) being used to treat anaemia in cancer patients.

The new recommendations follow an analysis of available evidence that suggests patients with cancer who receive r-HuEPOs have an increased risk of tumour progression and reduced overall survival.

The decision to administer r-HuEPOs should be based on an informed risk-benefit assessment.

Blood transfusion should be the preferred option for the management of anaemia in patients with cancer, particularly in patients receiving adjuvant chemotherapy or patients being treated with curative intent.

Blood transfusion may also be preferable in patients with advanced or metastatic cancer with a good survival prognosis.

These new recommendations follow previous safety warnings from the MHRA and CHM in December 2007 given alongside recommendations for the use of r-HuEPOs for the management of anaemia in patients with chronic kidney disease.

All of these recommendations have been incorporated into the erythropoietin entries in MIMS.


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