What is ARANESP?
(ARANESP) This medication is used to treat anemia (low red blood cell count) in people with long-term serious kidney disease (chronic kidney failure) and people receiving chemotherapy for some types of cancer (cancer that does not involve the bone marrow or blood cells). Darbepoetin alfa also helps to reduce the need for blood transfusions. It works by signaling the bone marrow to make more red blood cells. This medication is very similar to the natural substance in your body (erythropoietin) that prevents anemia.
How should I use ARANESP?
Read the Medication Guide and Patient Information Leaflet provided by your pharmacist before you start using this medication and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist. This medication is given as an injection under the skin or into a vein as directed by your doctor. Hemodialysis patients should receive this medication by injection into a vein. If you are using this medication at home, learn all preparation and usage instructions from your health care professional. Do not shake this medication and do not mix it with other drugs or IV solutions. Before using, check this product visually for particles or discoloration. If either is present, do not use the liquid. If you are injecting this medication under the skin, before each dose, clean the injection site with rubbing alcohol. Change the injection site each time to lessen injury under the skin. Learn how to store and discard medical supplies safely. The dosage is based on your medical condition, weight, and response to treatment. Blood tests should be done often to check how well this medication is working and to decide the correct dose for you. Consult your doctor for more details. Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, use it on the same day of the week as directed. Do not increase your dose or use this drug more often or for longer than prescribed. Your condition will not improve any faster, and your risk of side effects will increase. It may take 2 to 6 weeks before your red blood cell count increases. Tell your doctor if your symptoms do not get better or if they get worse.
What should I tell my health care provider before I take ARANESP?
Before using darbepoetin alfa, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to other drugs that cause more red blood cells to be made (such as epoetin alfa); or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients (such as polysorbate, latex), which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details. Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: high blood pressure, heart disease (such as heart failure, past heart attack/stroke), seizure disorder, severe anemia caused by antibodies to past erythropoietin-type treatment (pure red cell aplasia). Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products). During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor. It is unknown if this medication passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
What may interact with ARANESP?
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.
What should I watch for while using ARANESP?
Discuss the risks and benefits of darbepoetin alfa with your doctor, as this medication may rarely cause very serious (possibly fatal) side effects, including blood clots, heart attack, stroke, or heart failure. It is very important to keep all lab appointments since your doctor will need to carefully check your red blood cell count and hemoglobin level. The lowest effective dose of this medication should be used. When used to treat anemia related to cancer, darbepoetin alfa may also increase the risk of death and/or cause your tumor to grow faster. This medication should be stopped after completing a treatment course of chemotherapy as directed by your doctor.
What if I miss a dose of ARANESP?
If you miss a dose, ask your doctor or pharmacist right away for a new dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.
What side effects may I notice from receiving ARANESP?
Headache, body aches, diarrhea, cough, stomach/abdominal pain, or injection site pain may occur. If any of these effects last or get worse, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly. Remember that this medication has been prescribed because your doctor has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects. Darbepoetin alfa may sometimes cause or worsen high blood pressure, especially in patients with long-term kidney failure. This effect may be caused by the number of red blood cells increasing too quickly, usually within the first 3 months of starting treatment. If you have high blood pressure, it should be well controlled before beginning treatment with this medication. Your blood pressure should be checked often. Ask your doctor if you should learn how to check your own blood pressure. If high blood pressure develops or worsens, follow your doctor's instructions about diet changes and starting or adjusting your high blood pressure medication. Lowering high blood pressure helps prevent strokes, heart attacks, and further kidney problems. Keep all lab appointments to have your red blood cell count/hemoglobin level tested regularly to reduce the chance of this side effect. Rarely, this medication may suddenly stop working well after a period of time because your body may make antibodies to it. A very serious anemia can result. Tell your doctor right away if symptoms of anemia return (such as increased tiredness, low energy, pale skin color, shortness of breath). Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: symptoms of heart failure (such as shortness of breath, swelling ankles/feet, unusual tiredness, unusual/sudden weight gain). Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including: seizures. This medication may rarely cause serious (sometimes fatal) problems from blood clots (such as heart attack, stroke, blood clots in the legs or lungs). Get medical help right away if you have: shortness of breath/rapid breathing, chest/jaw/left arm pain, unusual sweating, confusion, sudden dizziness/fainting, pain/swelling/warmth in the groin/calf, sudden/severe headaches, trouble speaking, weakness on one side of the body, sudden vision changes, blood clots in your hemodialysis vascular access site. A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing. This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist. In the US - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch. In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Where should I keep ARANESP?
Store in the refrigerator. Do not freeze. Protect from light. Store the medication in the original carton until ready for use. Let the medication come to room temperature before using. After each dose, discard any unused medication right away. Keep all medications away from children and pets. Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.