Why EPO Can Be Harmful to Individuals Suffering with Chronic Kidney Disease


A lot of people with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) seem to think that because Epogen is good for you, it is not dangerous. This is not the case! The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that Epogen (also Procrit and Aranesp) may induce seizures, high blood pressure, headaches, heart attack, stroke or even death in those with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). Epogen is a man made form of naturally occurring protein called Erythropoietin which is produced in the kidney and stimulates the production of red blood cells. When the kidneys fail, the amount of Erythropoietin is diminished in the body. Also, the red blood cells may be decreased by medication. Therefore, Epogen is used to treat anemia by stimulating red blood cell production. 

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Epogen is a useful drug but should not be taken lightly. Doctors test their patients' hemoglobin (molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen) levels and use the results to adjust Epogen dosages. Currently, they have set a goal of 10 to 12 g/dL hemoglobin in patients with CKD. But there is new evidence that shows patients who achieve desired goals may have a significantly increased risk of negative health effects. To improve your safety you may have to use a lower dose while diligently monitoring Epogen, and if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, or any seizure disorder you may not be able to use it at all. Discuss this issue with your Nephrologist or Pharmacist to weigh the possible benefits of Epogen as an effective method of decreasing the need for red-blood-cell transfusion against an increased risk of serious health side-effects.

Recommended Reading: Increased Transfusion among CKD Individuals, Troubling Trend


Use of Epogen is okay if taken exactly as directed by your Nephrologist. If you are unsure about the instructions ask your Pharmacist, Nurse or Nephrologist. The FDA recommends that you begin using Epogen when your hemoglobin level is less than 10 g/dL and if your hemoglobin level reaches 11 g/dL, reduce the Epogen dose or stop your treatment all together upon the advice of your Nephrologist.

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Reference: DeNoon, Daniel J. "FDA: New Warning for Procrit, Epogen, Aranesp." WebMD