Tuesday, October 19, 2010
FDA Advisers Back Anemia Drugs for Kidney Patients
Kidney-failure patients can continue taking a group of widely used anemia drugs, even though a recent study showed they can increase the risk of stroke, says the FDA.
A panel of FDA advisers voted 15-1, with one abstention, to maintain use of the drugs for patients with chronic kidney disease who aren't yet in need of dialysis, the Associated Press reported. The FDA is not required to follow the advice of its advisory panels, but typically does so.
The drugs -- Procrit, Aranesp and Epogen, a class of medications known as erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) -- boost oxygen-carrying red blood cells, reducing the need for painful blood transfusions. But sales have fallen sharply since 2007, when the FDA added the first of several safety warnings to the drugs, based on evidence they can cause tumor growth and hasten death in cancer patients. The drugs are no longer used in patients with several types of cancers, the AP reported.