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Generic Name: EPOetin-ALfa
Brand names: Epogen, Procrit, and Retacrit

Drug Class: Recombinant human erythropoietins

What is Epogen?

Epogen is an artificial form of the protein that your body uses to produce red blood cells. You may have a reduced amount of this protein if you suffer from renal failure or if you take certain medications. Anemia is a condition that occurs when fewer red cells are produced.Epogen can be used to treat anemia that is caused by chemotherapy, chronic renal disease, taking Zidovudine for the treatment of HIV, or other causes.Epogen can also be used to reduce the number of red blood cells required for certain types of surgery.

Side effects of Epogen

If you experience any of the following symptoms: hives, sweating or rapid pulse, difficulty breathing, dizziness, or fainting; swelling in your face, throat, or mouth; or severe skin reactions (fever, sore eyes, burning, or painful skin; or a red or purple rash with blisters and peeling), then seek emergency medical attention.Epogen may cause serious side effects, such as a heart attack or stroke. If you experience this, seek emergency medical attention.

  • Heart attack symptoms: chest pain, pressure or pain that spreads to your shoulder or jaw, nausea, and sweating.
  • Signs and symptoms of stroke: sudden numbness, weakness, or headaches (especially one side), slurred or shaky speech, or problems with vision, balance, or coordination;
  • Signs of a blood clot: pain, swelling, warmth or redness, or a cold sensation, or if the arm or leg is pale.
  • High blood pressure, headaches, blurred vision, and pounding in the neck or ears anxiety- nosebleed.

If you experience:

  • Unusual tiredness
  • A seizure (convulsions);
  • High blood sugar: increased thirst, increased urination, and dry mouth
  • Low sodium—leg cramps; constipation—increased thirst, increased urination or numbness, muscle weakness, or a limp feeling.
  • Elevated blood pressure—headaches, blurred visions, pounding in the neck or ears, anxiety, and nosebleeds.

Side effects of Epogen include:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Joint pain, bone pain, muscle pain;
  • Itching or rash
  • Fever, chills, cough;
  • Mouth pain and difficulty swallowing
  • Nausea, vomiting;
  • Headache, dizziness;
    Trouble sleeping
  • Depressed mood
  • Weight loss;
  • Pain or redness at the injection site.

There may be other side effects. For medical advice on side effects, call your doctor. The FDA can be contacted at 1-800-FDA-1088 to report side effects


Epogen may cause serious side effects such as stroke or heart attack. Epoetin-alfa can also accelerate tumor growth or shorten survival times in some patients. Discuss with your doctor the benefits and risks of Epogen.Epogen should not be used if your blood pressure is uncontrolled or if you've ever experienced pure red cell aplasia caused by epoetin or darbepoetin.If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately: Sudden numbness, weakness, difficulty with speech or vision, chest pain, breathing difficulties, or pain in an arm

Prior to using this drug

Epogen should not be used if you have an allergy to epoetin or darbepoetin or if any of the following:

  • You have high blood pressure that is uncontrolled or untreated.
  • You have pure red cell anemia (PRCA) after taking darbepoetin or epoetin.
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding and use Epogen Multi-Dose Vials.

Never give Epogen to a baby from a vial with multiple doses. The multi-dose vial may contain an ingredient that can have serious side effects or even cause death in premature or very young babies.Epogen can speed up tumor growth or reduce the time to remission in certain cancer patients. Discuss with your doctor the benefits and risks of using epoetin-alfa.

Tell your doctor about any of the following:

  • High blood pressure and heart disease
  • A heart attack or blood clot.
  • A seizure disorder;
  • Phenylketonuria (PKU);
  • Kidney disease (or dialysis if you have it)

This medicine is not known to harm an unborn child.Inform your physician immediately if you are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant.Breastfeeding may not be possible while taking this medication. You should consult your doctor if you are concerned about any risks.Do not use Epogen vials if you're pregnant or breastfeeding.Epoetin-alfa, which is derived from human plasma donated by donors, may contain viruses and other infectious agents. Plasma donated is treated and tested to reduce the chance of contamination. However, there is still some risk that it may transmit disease. You should ask your doctor if there are any risks.

Similar/related drugs

ferrous sulfate, pyridoxine, Revlimid, FeroSul, lenalidomide, Procrit, and Aranesp

How do I take Epogen?

Follow the instructions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Please read the instructions on your prescription label. Sometimes, your doctor will change the dose. You must take the medication exactly as prescribed.Epogen can be injected into the vein or infused under the skin. You may be taught how to use Epogen by a healthcare provider.Please read and follow all instructions for use that come with your medication. Epogen should not be used if you do not understand the instructions. If you have any questions, ask your pharmacist or doctor.Only prepare your injection when you're ready to administer it. If the color of your medicine has changed or if it contains particles, do not use it. For new medication, call your pharmacist.

You may ruin this medicine if you shake it.If you are feeling weak, tired, or lightheaded, call your doctor. These symptoms may indicate that Epogen has not been working.It may be necessary to have frequent medical tests in order to ensure that this medication does not have any harmful effects. The results may delay your injections.Other medications may be prescribed to prevent severe side effects. Continue to use these medications as prescribed by your doctor.Tell your surgeon if you will need surgery that you use Epogen. You may have to take blood-clot prevention medicine.Epogen may be part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes a special diet. You should follow your doctor's advice.Store in the fridge and away from light. Do not freeze Epogen. If it becomes frozen, throw the medication away.This medicine comes in a single-use bottle (vial). After one use, throw it out, even if the medicine is still inside. After the first use, throw away any remaining medicine from a multidose vial.Only use a needle or syringe once, and then store them in a "sharps container" that is puncture-proof. Be sure to follow local or state laws on how to properly dispose of the container. Keep the container out of reach of pets and children.

What happens if I miss the dose?

If you forget to take Epogen, call your doctor.

What happens if I overdose?

Call 1-800-222-1222 for poison help or seek immediate medical attention.

Avoid this

Do not drive or engage in hazardous activities until you have determined how the medicine will affect you. You may be unable to react properly..

Interaction with other drug

Epoetinalfa may interact with other drugs, such as vitamins and herbal products. Inform your doctor of all the medicines you are taking and those that you stop or start using.