Iron deficiency; Pernicious anemia
Anemia is a condition that develops from a lack of healthy red blood cells. There are many different causes and types of anemia.
Iron-deficiency anemia, the most common type, is usually treated with dietary changes and iron supplement pills. Other types of anemia, such as those associated with chronic disease or cancer therapies, require more aggressive types of treatment.
Erythropoiesis-stimulating drugs -- epoietin alfa (Epogen, Procrit) and darbepoetin alfa (Aranesp) -- increase the production of red blood cells. They are used to treat anemia associated with chronic kidney failure, cancer chemotherapy, and antiretroviral HIV therapy.
In the last several years, safety concerns have been raised about the side effects of these drugs, especially when they are given above certain dosing levels or administered to patients who are not appropriate candidates. The FDA advises:
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